Thursday, February 27, 2014

How to make more money from your blog with insurance, loans, and mortgages

If you have a blog there is really no reason not to have Google adwords on there. Most bloggers do, and most realize that the money they get from the ads comes from people clicking on those ads, and you get a percentage. But what many bloggers don't really think about (or maybe don't even know) is that many keywords pay a lot more for each click, and that you can, to some extent, control what is going to be in the ads showing on your site!

Google has really complex algorithms designed to maximize the targetting and effectiveness of the ads it shows, so it changes what ads somebody sees based partly on their behaviors online, but also based on the content of the site where the ad is seen.

If the article is about surfing, chances are the ads are more likely to be about similar things. One article may not do it, but several on the same subjects can start to control the ads.

Below is an infographic displaying the top 20 most espensive keywords in Google Adwords. These people are paying as much as $50 PER CLICK on their ads! and you can get a percentage of that!

Now I never suggest spamming with these types of techniques, because they will hurt your traffic and your revenue more than help it, but depending on the content of your blog you can use these keywords to give yourself some ideas for articles while simultaneously influencing the CPC (cost per click) of the ads showing on your site!

Is your site about surfing? do a post on surfing and health insurance. Insurance is the #1 highest cost keyword.

Have a site about investing? write about whether it is a good or bad idea to borrow money to invest (Loan is the #2 keyword).

However you choose to do it, just make sure you are writing a legitimate article that would add value to your site even without any tertiary benefits. But it can't hurt to check out this list and use those top 20 keywords as inspiration for some future articles.

-The Money Monk

Sunday, February 23, 2014

How to get a 9% discount on your gas!

Here is a sweet opportunity I came across recently:

As you know I sell a lot of stuff on eBay. They sent a message to my account about some kind of promotion they are running where you can get 10% off a purchase of at least $75. I am also enrolled in "eBay Bucks" which is free to sign up for and gives you 2% back on most (but not all) purchases you make on eBay. I don't buy a lot on eBay, but I do get a lot of my supplies like labels and tape there, so there is no reason not to be signed up for it.

So I found a Shell gas gift card for the value of $250. Strangely enough it was listed for $259, which is $9 MORE than face value! I had always wondered how people can sell some of these gift cards for more than face value, I guess now I know. There were no others in the appropriate amount listed for any less, so I went ahead and bought it.

The 10% promo code brought the price down to $233.10.

The eBay bucks promotion also gave me $5.20 cash back, effectively bringing the total down to $227.90.

So I got $250 worth of gas for $227.90. About a 9% discount!

Paying with a rewards credit card could give you another 1-3% cash back too!

If you are going to use techniques like this, make sure it is for something that you really need, and aren't going to use more of just because you have it. Gas fits the bill perfectly for me. I will definitely use it eventually, and having 'free' gas sitting around in gift cards isn't going to change my driving habits any.

This example also highlights how having the capital available to buy things in quantity when you can get a discount can save you big money! I basically gave myself $22 free dollars! That's almost 3 hours or human labor at minimum wage!

Let me know if you have ever done anything similar.

-The Money Monk

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Credit card rewards foolishness - Pay attention!

In an effort to get people to use their cards, and use them more often, many credit card companies have instituted various reward programs. Most of these take the form of points that you earn as a percentage of what you spend (usually 1 to 5%) and then you can use the points to get cash back, gift cards, and a host of other items.

If used intelligently these reward programs can be beneficial. If you only spend what you were going to anyway, and don't carry a balance on the card and incur interest payments, then you get your percentage every year and it's basically free money.

But there is one thing I have noticed about most credit card rewards programs, and it illustrates why you should always pay attention, and always calculate everything:

The reward programs almost always offer gift cards and cash back as option to redeem your points, but the gift cards are usually at the exact point-cost as the cash back! So in other words, it takes the exact same amount of points to get $50 of money that you can only spend at a single merchant as it does to get $50 back in cash that you can spend anywhere!

Why would anybody go for the gift cards? On one of my cards, at the higher denominations of point redemption, it is actually a WORSE deal to get gift cards than it is to get cash!!

I have no idea why anybody would spend MORE points to get less money and less options, but it just goes to show you why you need to pay attention and calculate everything!

-The Money Monk

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Early Retirement: The option nobody ever told you about

When I was a young adult just getting out of high school and in early college, I thought I had two choices for the my life: Either follow the money, or do something I really enjoyed. Sure some unrealistic jobs can fulfill both goals, but I wasn't holding out too much hope of being a pro athlete, poker player.

 None of the realistic jobs that pay above average seemed fun or exciting, so I thought I had to choose between doing a job I don't like to have an otherwise comfortable life, or do a job I can enjoy but have an otherwise uncomfortably poor life.

Either way I was unfortunately looking at 30-40 years of whichever existence I ended up with.

What I wish I knew at the time, and what I luckily know now, is that you don't have to be stuck with one of these fates. There is another option nobody told you about: Early retirement.

If I could back to 18 years old, I would get my degree in something boring but with excellent job prospects and pay (like engineering) even though I have no interest in that work .  I would put up with a job in that field for 8 to 12 years, saving 50 to 80 percent of my money. If I had done that I could have be enjoying FIRE right now!

This path offers the best of both worlds. You have to put up with a sub-optimal job, and living frugally, but unlike both other options, it is a specific plan with a finish line. And afterward you have NO job and a decent living!

Even though I didn't have this knowledge 10 years ago, the good news is I do now, and I am still young enough for it to have a drastic impact on the rest of my life. And I intend to make sure it does!

-The Money Monk

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

How much money do you need to start selling on eBay?

If you have been reading this blog or watching my videos, you know I am a big proponent of not only saving money, but also of creating ways to make more money through various revenue streams.

Reselling used goods is one such revenue stream that is available to almost anyone, and eBay is one of the most common ways to resell. But to sell things on eBay you have to have things to sell. Some times you can get stuff for free, but most of the time you will have to buy things.

So what kind of bankroll does it take to realistically start selling things and making money on eBay?

I had always believed that anybody could make money selling on eBay, with almost any amount of money, so I made an experiment to prove it. I was going to see how much money I could make in a few months buying things at garage sales, thrift stores, etc and reselling them on eBay, starting with only a single dollar. Something that anybody could do.

So on my YouTube channel I started the "$1 reselling challenge". Now there are a few assumptions baked in, namely access to a computer and camera to do the eBay listings. But other than that all you need is a single dollar.

Here is the link to my channel where you can find the videos:

But I'll give away the ending for you: In about 3 months the bankroll is up to over $300, and I have dozens of items that I have already purchased but haven't yet sold. I am not going to purchase any more items and will sell off the remainder of what I have to get the final total, but on my estimates I should be able to clear $1000. That's $1000 within 4 months, starting with only $1!

So don't ever think you don't have enough money to start a side gig reselling on eBay!

-The Money Monk

Monday, February 3, 2014

Don't try to do better things, just try to do things better

Due to technological advancements we can do and make things cheaper and more efficiently than we could many years ago. However, instead of continuing to make cheaper, better versions of the same products, most people want better products. 

While continued innovation is awesome, many people are then only satisfied with having the best, newest version of whatever is out there. Instead of using off the shelf technology in a better, cheaper way, we try to come up with something completely novel.

This mindset can surface when people are trying to save money, as well. For example, I have seen forums and blog posts outlining ridiculous lengths people will go to in order to pay less for gas, with all sorts of cash back, rebates, etc. And they almost never mention the 2 most important aspects of fuel consumption: 

1. How fuel efficient is your car

and even more importantly, 

2. How much you drive!

People would get overjoyed if they found a way to pay 50 cents less per gallon of gas. But think about this: 

If you have a car that gets 20 mpg, switching to a car that gets 25 miles per gallon is the equivalent of getting $0.87 cents off per gallon when gas is $3.50! 

And simply driving less, and hyper-miling when you do, increases these savings even more! 

Fuel consumption is just one example of how you can apply this principle. Just remember, you don't have to come up with better, new ways to do things. Many times you can just do the same old things better, and save money that way. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

How long will it take you to retire?

I've mentioned numerous times how the single most important factor in determining when you can 'retire' is your savings rate. To that end, I found a great early retirement calculator for you guys to check out and play around with.

You can adjust most inputs; income, savings rate, return on investment, etc. It is better than looking at a static graph for getting an exact picture of how long it will take you to achieve FIRE. I have had a lot of fun playing around with this thing. It's motivating too!

-The Money Monk