Wednesday, September 28, 2011

we're back

hi, hello.

we're back, and are greatly humbled.  
we didn't make a decision to stop blogging, to stop publicly celebrating our commitment to be debt-free - - it just sort of happened. 
and since we will always, always share the facts on this blog - 

the truth is that
we somehow started spending more
and now, almost a year later
we have peaked at 
or, if you will, "thirty-four poor"
but have inched down from there to 
and, as i said,
we are back on the horse.  

if there is anyone in the world still reading this, thank you. 
if there is not-  then this is for US. 
we are going to do this!

here is a quote from engaged marriage.  this is our plan:

"It takes passion, energy and commitment to pay off a large amount of debt.  And it takes a lot of hard work.  There’s really no substitute for effort if you want to make a major change in your financial future and live a debt-free marriage.
For us, this meant a firm commitment to incurring no additional debt and a new mindset focused first-and-foremost on paying off our stupid debts.  Practically speaking, the real key for us was building and strictly following a family budget that reduced our spending on things like shopping and eating out at restaurants.  We didn’t take vacations and we kept our entertainment on the simple side.  In a word, we got frugal.
I also worked a LOT, and we used any small amount of money we could come up with to pay off the next debt in our debt snowball.  There weren’t many big moments of major progress.  Instead, it was all about being consistent and maintaining our intensity over the course of several years."

so - this is just to say - we're here, and get ready.

those numbers are going down! 

Friday, November 19, 2010

free money!

Does that title sound like spam or what?

Well, hopefully, if you are still reading this, your spam reaction must not have been sufficiently violent to close the window immediately, assuming that I must be about to offer you a chance to free the President of Nigeria for only a small payment, etc. Or earn 22.2 percent interest on a no-hassle investment. Or turn your jewelry and silver place settings into CASH NOW!!!!

No, I'm not offering any of those things.
I'm offering something better.

A touch of American nostalgia and a little precious metal. 

We are rapidly approaching our FIRST BOX checked SOLELY through website income!

Not bad, considering we only post a few times a month these days.

To celebrate, we will be having a CELEBRATORY GIVEAWAY.

Someday soon, after the mark has been reached, we will open up the floor for our readers to enter this contest. (To enter we'll ask you to do a few basic things like comment on our blog, link to the blog post from your blog, and click on our ads.)

And then one lucky reader will receive some US minted silver. Why? Because I was a coin collector as a kid, and I've got all these coins lying around. Plus, silver is becoming a safer and safer investment these days. 

Talk to ya'll about this again soon.


Friday, November 12, 2010

the list of our dear friend Craig...

People are always throwing away furniture. It's in your home, you want to replace it with something, so you put it in the alley or bring it to the dump. Problem solved.

However, this is a perfect opportunity to make some money.

These couches, for example. Cash in the trash.
So you sell them. On CRAIGSLIST! 

Once, I had a hideous green couch that I got from some relatives. Distant relatives. Wife's parent's cousin's relatives. Bottom line: couch was free and ugly.

I put it up on craigslist, just to see what offers I could get and sold it for $120!

Accounting recap: 
Initial investment = $0.00
Final sale value = $120.00

Net Profit = $120.00.

If only that worked every time. But let me run through a list of other things that have worked:

Bedroom set: bed, side tables, dressers:
Bought: Free  Sold: $100
Coffee Table:
Bought: Free  Sold: $25
Ugly Couch #2:
Bought: Free  Sold: $50
Ugly Couch #3: (thank goodness for slipcovers)
Bought: Free   Sold: $35
Cool Chair in Disrepair:
Bought: Free  Sold: $25
TV's found in our Apartment Storage Unit:
Bought: Free  Sold: $15 & $25
Obviously we've got something good going here. If only I could accumulate a free inventory of furniture I could be quite a businessman. What a business model.

But how does one sell on Craigslist? Isn't it a hassle? Aren't people untrustworthy? What if I don't want strangers in my home?

Step One: 
Take pictures of it looking its best. You don't want pictures of it upside down or in storage or at night. Dress it up nice and take a good picture.

 Step Two:
Get it out of your living space! If you want this thing gone, move it to the basement, the back entryway, a storage unit. Save your sanity while you try to sell it. This has the added benefit allowing you to deal with potential buyers in a place other than inside your home, such as a garage or storage area.

Step Three:
Describe it accurately, only put your phone number on the listing if you want to. Be selective about your offers. Be totally competitive. If people are coming to see your item, ask them to call you before they leave, or call them 15 minutes before they are supposed to arrive before you start getting ready for them. This way you won't be disappointed an hour later when they call and cancel. Bring the item of furniture out of your home for additional safety if you desire. Specify cash up front and have change ready. Be firm! Let them know other people are interested. Ask $25 more than you really expect and then take less if you want.

And of course:

this book couldn't hurt.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Making Money with Craigslist

Good luck!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Art of the Haggle

So here's a scene you don't see too much anymore: brightly lit grocery store, customer with a cart full of items, shopkeeper running the items through the scanner when the customer says, "Five dollars a pound for those cantaloupes is pretty expensive. Would you take three?"

Gone are the days when you could dicker with the shopkeep when buying ponchos.

Why don't we see that anymore? Because it doesn't work it huge supermarkets. You can't haggle your way down with a cash register clerk. You can't even do it with the manager at the chain store supermarkets. It would be, in a word: ridiculous. Not only would it never work, it would embarrass everyone around you, particularly loved ones.

However, there are still an entire world of situations in the modern world where you can haggle. And sometimes you just have to go looking for them. Great opportunities for this exist at farmer's markets, antique stores, thrift stores, garage sales, offers and really any small business where the owner of the business is the person you're talking to. Non-chain service stores such as repair shops, contractors, and design/art studios are perfect examples of this. 

There are two basic strategies involved in the art of the haggle:

"Its Not Personal; It's Business." For this mindset you have to believe that you aren't taking advantage of this person, you're simply getting the best price both of you can afford to give. They want your business, and you don't want to pay more than you have to. To this end, you can comparison shop, ask for better prices using competitor's advertisements and offers, and interact with these businesses as if you were getting bids on a construction contract, for example. Act as if the entire operation is a business transaction, not a personal one, and this can be very successful. However, this is not the best tactic with extremely personal sellers, such as artists and garage salers.

"Quick and Painless." For the more personal business transaction (think, buying a knicknack at a garage sale or a spur of the moment purchase) follow a few guidelines. If the price is $35 and you want to pay $20, offer $15 and be prepared for them to lower the price to $25. Counteroffer $20 or pay the $25 if you feel it is a fair price. The key to this type of tactic lies in the details. Have your cash ready so that you don't need change, as this just increases awkward downtime during the transaction. Don't be afraid to note something that might be wrong with the item or another reason to justify lowering the price. ("Do you have the missing kickstand for this bike anywhere? No? Oh, well would you take $20 for it then?") 

2/3rds of the time, this will probably work, and the truth is that people would rather be offered deals that they have the power to say no to then never sell their item. So be fearless and confident. And never try to haggle if it makes you feel bad (in a developing country, from your relatives, etc.)

Try it - it can't hurt!


Monday, November 1, 2010

hi, olivia here

i've been MIA lately on this blog, and i apologize.  
jack's been doing a great job apparently!  i love what he has set up with the ads and the clicking and everything.  
i have been busy with my fitness instructor class.  a little too busy - hopefully it will settle down soon.

we scored a few GREAT furniture finds on Craigslist last week.  a FREE bookshelf and a small hutch/tv stand that looks a bit mid-century modern, and is very cool.  i should be more regular in my craigslist free-stuff browsing, because we are really wanting some more furniture to help us organize things.  

let's see, as far as money-saving goes, i think we have settled into a new mindset, and it's so good.  the other day i was really craving this restaurant near us, and i mentioned it to Jack since we were downtown and close by.  i think in the past he would have said, "you want to?  sure, let's go." but this time he said that he really didn't think we should.  it flashed through my mind that this answer could be really disappointing and annoying, but my honest reaction was relief.  we didn't need to go out to eat, we were on our way home, and that he stuck to his gut, and our convictions, was really reassuring to me. 

we're talking about the small purchases as well as the big ones, and verbalizing it all helps us appreciate the value of each dollar.  

{but you know that we also don't want to become stodgy and stuffy with money... so it's a balance between digging in our heels and saying NO, and choosing to let go a little bit and say YES.}

fun fun fun.

i will also be honest and say that there is this $50 table that i am having a hard time either choosing to say NO to and forgetting about, or figuring out a way to raise/earn $50 extra dollars to buy.  It would be the perfect craft/dining table, and to be quite frank, i just WANT IT.  

more to come on that.  

thanks for reading.  this blog has been such a joy for us!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

You bunch of Clickers.

Wow. Yesterday we had more add clicks than we have had in all of our previous history combined. We had a 26% click-through-rate, which means that one in four of you clicked on our ads yesterday. I'm betting you did this just because I asked you to, and not because you were interested in revitalizing the look of your eyebrow hair.

Google's AdSense gives you all these tools to dissect your audience information. We know the number of advertising clicks, the number of page views, where in the world the viewers are living, and what websites are referring them to us! It's pretty fascinating, you can generate reports, compare trends and launch new advertising campaigns (although we can't control what ads come onto our site very well - so unfortunately you'll have to put up with these shenanigans on the right side.)
And so we doubled our advertising revenue, bringing us closer and closer to a debt-free life. Maybe I should just end every post with a desperate plea for clicks on our ads. Like this: we can't earn website income without you!

(It's true: Google won't count it when we click on our own ads. Not that we've tried or anything.)


Friday, October 29, 2010

A Penny Made is a Penny Paid (to the Credit Cards)

So we've finally gotten the hang of using our blog to make money - luckily our Blogger blog is connected to the Google empire, so we have automatic advertising built into our site if we want it, a serious blessing when compared to other blog sites like WordPress which do not include advertising, and make it very difficult if you want to include it on your own. (Think learning and using complex computer code: very 1980s Apple IIe.) 

So we've covered our blog in advertising, which admittedly hurts the aesthetics but will hopefully translate to some real money - ideally more and more as our blog "takes off." This process really is the old hope of any writer, waiting to be discovered, but in the blogging world it is much more anonymous, much more random.

While we apologize for the clutter of these random links and text which most likely are referencing things that you have been searching for lately,  so know that each time you see them, and especially each time you click on them, you will be helping us get out of debt and helping another family to boot when we donate these profits in the future. The most dramatic effect comes each time one of these highly personalized and yet anonymous ads is clicked, which pays big. Real big. 

While we still have a long way to go before Google will let us cash out any of our advertising earnings ($100 minimum payouts - not ideal for small-time bloggers like us) we are excited as that day draws closer. An entire box checked off our Debt Checklist just from people like you clicking on random links!

Just think "helping them + 1 other" when you click on: "Eliminate Debt with These 3 Weird Old Tips" or "100% Guaranteed Snake Oil" or "Exfoliate Your Back Hair Now."  You'll be doing a great thing, and you will have learned something about back hair exfoliation, weird old debt tips or snake oil.

And you will have our thanks.


[Thanks to the Carnival of Debt Reduction for featuring this post at Many thanks to all who clicked! _jack]