March 30, 2012, 4:28 am

Epicness of the Week

by: MD    Category: Financial Rambling

What’s up everyone? It’s time to share something epic from the past week. What caught my eye this week?

The Roth IRA Movement – Over 140 Bloggers Doing Their Part to Promote Savings @ Good Financial Cents.

As you can tell from the title, this was a gather of over 140 bloggers that wanted to promote the idea of retirement savings. When you check out that post you’ll learn absolutely everything that you’ve ever wanted to know about retirement planning. Are you ready to start saving for retirement?

As always, if you want your post included in here, just send a quick email to thefinancialblogger at gmail dot com.

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March 29, 2012, 6:00 am

You Can Learn Anything in This World

by: MD    Category: Miscellaneous

It was the summer of 2010. One of my favorite summers ever. I had just gotten the keys to my rental property. Instead of renting it out right away, I decided to live there with a buddy that would pay me rent. We decided to make it the best summer ever. We were both done with college, making money, and interested in having a blast while we worked hard as well.

One hot morning we were having breakfast. I had the biggest smile on my face for this particular breakfast. Why was I smiling? Let’s just say I didn’t make it home the night before. After telling my friends all about my night before, one friend turns to me and says that I’m lucky that I work out because it makes it easier to meet women when you work out. Another friend at the table looked at me and winked.

The truth is that my goal in 2010 was to learn how to improve my dating skills. This is something that many will say is a topic that you can’t read about. Well guess what? I read about it and learned plenty. My friend forced me to read some pick up material. I was hesitant at first, but then he agreed to read some of my material on blogging and lifestyle design. What I learned that summer increased my confidence as a public speaker, young entrepreneur, and young adult.

Where am I going with this? I’m not trying to make myself look like an idiot. I wanted to prove a point with my brief story…

You can learn anything in this world.

You don’t believe me? Go to Google and um, Google it! Look around. Type in something new. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by all of the answers that you find. Within minutes you can learn all that you need to know on a certain topic.

The truth is that you can learn anything that you want. All you have to do is look for the plethora of answers available on the Internet and all around you. You then have to filter the information out, avoid information overload, and slowly learn about that new topic that’s been on your mind for the longest time.

Now that you know this information, what are you going to do about it? Are you going to attempt to learn something new?

What are some ways that you can waste time learning?

  1. Look up random facts.
  2. Check out history that doesn’t matter.
  3. Read trivial information.
  4. See what your friends are doing on Facebook.

What are some productive ways to learn something?

  • Learn a new language.
  • Find a way to improve your health.
  • Find a fitness plan that works for you.
  • Pick up some new skills.
  • Find a new way to make money.
  • Look into improving your negotiating skills.
  • Search for bargains.

You can learn anything that you want. The only thing stopping you is you. I just wanted to remind you that you can take 20 minutes a day or a few hours this weekend to sit down and put your mind to that project that has been on your mind. I decided to read a little bit in Polish online every single day so that I don’t lose my ability to read in my second language. What are you going to learn?

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” — Benjamin Franklin

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March 28, 2012, 5:00 am

2 Weeks After The PR Hit and The Panda Update

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Make Money Online

 

Last week, I wrote a complete article on how to survive Google. This article was inspired by the huge PR slap that happened about 2 weeks ago. Last week, there was another Panda update (about 5 times smaller than those previous according to Matt Cutt). Call it luck, call it diversification or call it simply having a lot of sites with a lot of authority; I wasn’t affected at all by either updates by Google. But it doesn’t mean that I don’t have to react.

 

Don’t Wait, Take Action

 

I’ve been quite busy for the past 2 weeks with email from bloggers who have been hit and looking for answers. I’ve tried to help them to the best of my knowledge, but even then, there are a lot of mysteries that only the Googlers know. All these bloggers have one thing in common: they will all take action to improve their situation.

 

Some of them will fall, others will recover what they have recently lost and a handful of them will crank up their blog to a level they had never attained. Regardless of their results one year from now; they will all take actions and try to improve their blog.

 

For the rest of us that haven’t been affected, my guess is that most of us will stay relaxed and keep raking in the money we are used to making. We weren’t affected; we must be sheltered from bad luck. Not me. This time, I won’t wait to take action. These recent events should be a wake-up call for all of us; regardless if you were hit or not.

 

What’s up With the Wake-up Call?

 

Over the past 2 weeks, we just got a clear signal that the business is changing, once again. You have 2 options; you either ignore the change and still feel lucky or you go back to the drawing board and evolve your business model.

 

The recent events are clearly aimed at people who had a business model based on private advertising. We all know that; Google doesn’t like ads besides their own Adsense. Call it a greedy way to exercise their monopoly or simply a clever marketing technique, the facts won’t change. So if your business model relies on this premise, you should continue reading this post because if you don’t evolve, you will get hurt sooner or later.

 

Changing my Business Model

 

I can’t obviously remove all my private ads tomorrow morning and say good bye to half of my online income in a single day. I have contracts to must honor and am not ready to cut out such a huge part of my online income. However, it doesn’t mean that I’m going to continue the way I do. I have established a clear plan on how to reduce our private ads to the minimum while increasing our other sources of income. The key is to find ways to increase our revenues and each time we succeed, we will reduce a part of our private ads.

 

Looking at my Strengths

 

Improving your income from various sources is easier said than done! In order for me to achieve this immense task, I have to look at the strengths of my network and convert them into higher revenues.

 

My #1 strength is definitely my traffic

 

Across our network we are on our way to hitting 500,000 pages viewed per month. It is well diversified across several websites and is proven to be quite stable over time. What does page views mean when you think about revenue?

 

–          CPM ads opportunities

–          More chances to hook a new visitor via RSS or newsletter subscription

–          More chances to get Adsense clicks (or similar ad network)

–          More chances to sell products (via affiliates or our own products)

 

What can be done: I’ve never looked too much at CPM ads so far. They seem to pay a very small payout and didn’t want to bother registering for them to try them out. This is obviously changing upon the recent events! I’m actually going to look at some of the big ad industries such as:

 

BlogHer (I have some sites dedicated to women 😀 )

Ads-daq Ad Exchange

Value Click

Casale Media

Burst Media

Advertising.com

Right Media

Tribal Fusion

 

Then, I’m going to modify some site designs to increase the presence of my RSS subscription button along with creating freebies to increase my newsletter subscriptions (read my series on building a newsletter). The more loyal readers you get, the more traffic you can generate without Google. I’ve successfully done this with some of my sites after the first Panda update and am now more independent in terms of traffic.

 

My #2 strength is the number of subscribers.

 

I’m already good at getting new readers from my traffic. Over the years, I’ve built a solid readership through my RSS feed and newsletter. I’ve only started to monetize this aspect of my blog in 2011. This has been done through a lot of trial and error work but I can see that I’m gradually improving my skills to generate money with loyal readers without upsetting them with too many ads.

 

I guess the trick is simply to offer useful products/services that I use. Instead of writing boring reviews, I’ve decided to show readers how I benefit from using X & Y products. I have some consistent sales from my article on how to use Market Samurai where I show exactly how I do my own keyword research. I just need to do a lot more articles that do this. They are usually longer and harder articles to write because it requires more research and the time to structure the post. You can’t just go and write whatever crosses your mind!

 

What can be done: I’ll be looking at doing more post series or email funnels (you have to register for my newsletter to understand how I create email funnels) on what products I use across my sites. I also need to be as specific as possible. Most affiliate products are highly competitive and narrowing my topics will be a great way to get interest from both existing readers and search engines visitors. It’s not like I could rank for a “0%APR balance transfer credit card” within a few months! By being very specific, you also increase the likelihood of not bothering your loyal readers as you will talk about products that can really help them.

 

My #3 Strength is the size of my archives

 

I have an incredible amount of articles in my archives. Across my network, I probably have over 5,000 articles written (TFB alone has almost 1,500 articles!). This is a huge database that is sleeping for the most part. Over the past 6 years, I’ve covered a surprisingly wide range of topics and know that a lot of this stuff could be read again today by new readers. I guess that one of my strengths is to write timeless articles. I know there is a lot of money that can be made from my archives.

 

What can be done: This is probably where a lot of work can be done to earn a lot more money as I’ve never worked too much on my old posts. Here are a few things that I can do:

 

#1 SEO: This is obvious and cliché. However, if I really go back to older posts that already get some SE traction; I can see exactly how they rank for which keywords with Market Samurai and optimize them accordingly. I will change the title and subtitles to reflect this keyword along with rephrasing a few lines to include synonyms and make the article more keyword rich. This will help me to improve my Adsense stats.

 

#2 Affiliate Research: I haven’t done many affiliate links in my early days (I was too busy doing private advertising, lol!). By going back to my archive, I’m sure I can find a lot of articles that are talking about great products and include affiliate links in them. What I like about affiliate links is that I can make money in a passive way once the link is up!

 

#3 Use my archives to create products: I’ve seen this from other sites and it seems to work well. In fact, I first tried to package a part of my archives from one of my smaller sites to make an eBook out of it. Believe it or not but with less than 500 visitors a month, I’m making about $30/month with the eBook for the past 4 months. It’s not a huge amount of money, but it’s a very small niche site a well. I figure that if I can replicate this model on one of my sites that has over 25,000 visitors/month, I should make a lot more! I will also use my archives to create free products in order to increase the number of subscribers ;-).

 

What are YOUR strengths?

 

I have given you a few examples of how I intend to move my business model towards my strengths and make as much or even more money that I am making right now. Have you thoughts of your strengths and how you can make money with them? With the current change in the business, I think it’s time for you to look at this aspect, don’t you think?

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March 27, 2012, 5:00 am

March Net Worth +0.42%

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Assets and Net Worth

 

After telling you that I won’t be disclosing all my blog income info yesterday, it feels awkward to continue with a “Net Worth” article where I tell you exactly what happened with my wallet this month… Oh well, I guess I’ll get used to it. On the other hand, I will still be sharing a lot of info about my sites, just not sharing what could hurt me.

 

On that topic, before I start with my update, I’d have to say that a talk I had with a well-known blogger back at the FINCON11 should have enlightened me on revealing my stuff. Since this blogger shares most of his stuff online, he admitted that a lot of people who copy his model and therefore faces a lot more competition than he used too. I was expecting this, but I never expected to create enemies… oh well, enough said! Now let’s get back to the topic of the day:

 

How I Survived a Pay Cut During My Parental Leave

 

February and March were 2 tough months in terms of personal finance since we had our 3rd child. While I experienced a significant pay cut due to my parental leave, my level of expenses increased during the same period. This is definitely not a good combination when you are trying to pay down your debts ;-).

 

March would have been negative as well if I hadn’t paid myself a dividend from my online company. Instead of “suffering” from the pay cut, I decided to pull a few bucks out of my company to compensate for the loss. This was great timing for a dividend because I was able to pay off about $1,500 in debt instead of growing my debt by about $1,500. Yup, this was how much my pay was cut for a month. The parental leave pays up to 75% of your salary but it is capped to a maximum pay check (which I obviously exceed).

 

During the same month, I decided to buy a treadmill and start working out at home instead of going to a gym. I have been working out for the past 3 years with a “man of steel” consistency. I am not afraid of training 4 days a week at home and was looking for ways to save money. So from now on, I’ll be saving about $50/month from my gym membership. The problem is that before I see this money being saved, I had to pay $600 for the treadmill. I’ll eventually buy myself a set of weights as well in order to be able to do my full work out. So far, I’ve been running 5km (roughly 3 miles) 4 days a week for the past 2 weeks. Since I have plenty of space in my basement, I can build a complete gym without taking space away from anyone else in the family. I must admit that I really like working out at home: I save time and money… it seems like the perfect solution!

 

In 12 Months, My Car Will Be Worth Less Than a Caramilk

 

When I updated my assets this month, I realized that next year, for my March 2013 net worth update, I’ll put a $0 value for my RX-8! That’s crazy isn’t it? This is because I amortize $400/month in value since I’ve purchased the car. I think it is fair as a car value should never represent the bulk of your net worth. On the other hand, I don’t think it should penalize your net worth either. This is why I’ve put an equal value to my Tribute and the loan attached to it. Since I’ve paid my RX-8 cash, I thought I would just cut $400 of value each month. The good news is that my car is probably worth about $6,000 – $7,000 today and will certainly still be worth $5,000 next year when it will show a $0 value. The day I will sell it, it will provide a small bump in my assets. But I don’t expect to sell it until it reaches 200,000 km. Since it is at 140K now and I only use it to go to work (it’s 5km away from my house), I guess I’m good for many years ;-).

 

When you do your net worth, do you include your car? How do you manage its value and the loan?

 

Here’s the detail of my net worth for March:

 

Assets:

ASSETSPREVIOUS
MONTH ($)
CURRENT
MONTH ($)
CHANGE (%)
CHECKING ACCOUNT $1,000 $1,000 0.0%
EMPLOYER STOCK
ACCOUNT
$3,139 $3,574 13.9%
RRSP ACCOUNT $29,545 $29,167 -1.3%
PENSION PLAN $20,218 $20,218 0.0%
HOME $345,640 $345,640 0.0%
COMPANY SHARES $98,000 $98,000 0.0%
MAZDA TRIBUTE $17,360 $16,926 -2.5%
MAZDA RX-8 $5,200 $4,800 -7.7%
TOTAL $520,102 $519,325 -0.1%

Liabilities:

DEBTSPREVIOUS
MONTH ($)
CURRENT
MONTH ($)
CHANGE (%)
CREDIT CARD $8,287 $6,371 -23.1%
LINE OF CREDIT $19,213 $19,945 3.8%
HELOC $263,400 $263,400 0.0%
CAR LOAN $17,360 $16,926 -2.5%
Personal Loan $10,416 $10,416 0.0%
TOTAL $318,676 $317,058 -0.5%

 

Net Worth: $202,267 (+0.42%)

 

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March 26, 2012, 5:00 am

Would You Declare Your Income?

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Make Money Online

 

 

It’s been a little bit more than a year since I started declaring my online income. The idea behind that successful series was to share how I’m able to make money online and to help you to do the same. As you can see, it’s been over a year that I have been disclosing a lot of interesting information about how you can improve your blog or websites and make a side business out of it. I’m pretty open about my sites and actually pretty open about my personal situation as well. Each month, I disclose my net worth and each year, I do a total income summary.

 

Why Money is Such a Taboo?

 

I have never understood why money is the biggest taboo ever. You could almost have a sex discussion at work during lunch time but it is strictly forbidden to share your salary with your co-workers. During parties with friends and family, people are almost shy to tell how much they paid for their new car or how much it cost renovated their house, etc. Why can’t we talk about money as we talk about anything else?

 

I’m a very open person. I’m sharing everything on my blog, but I’m also sharing everything in real life. When someone asks me how much I make per year or how much I paid for something. I tell them upfront. I don’t see the problem with it. It’s not like I’ve been stealing money! But then again, people are surprised to see how open I can be. To me, it’s just a matter of offering the right information to the right question. What’s the point of giving a vague answer? What does it matter to you if I make 20K, 200K or 2M$ a year? It doesn’t affect your life, so why would you care so much?

 

Because People are Evil and Jealous

 

I have faith in human beings. In fact, you can tell that I’m a bit naïve. I think that people can be good. In fact, I expect people to be good and hope the best for others around me. Unfortunately, I am regularly with regards to this premise. Over time, I’ve found that some people are evil and jealous. If you make money or are successful in something and you tell people, most people that truly like you will be happy. However, a handful of people will hate and envy you. These people, as little as the number can be, can hurt you big time. It seems that because they haven’t made it, they must drag everybody down to their level.

 

And This is Why I’ll Shut my Mouth from Now On

 

Yeah… I know, it’s pretty sad. While I’m trying to help people and give them hope, I’m under the impression that I could be attacked. I’ve seen a lot of weird things happening lately in the PF blogosphere (it is not a coincidence that I’ve wrote how to survive Google last week!).

 

I haven’t seen any backlash on my site but I will certainly not wait until it happens. This business is one of my true passions in life and I don’t want to see it destroyed by a few evil doers. I’ll keep reporting my net worth because there is nothing to attack on this one (I’m not rich anyways!) but I might stop the day that I become richer… it’s crazy isn’t?

 

I’ll do Things Differently

 

I’m still going to be pretty open about a lot of things that I do (so don’t cancel my blog yet 😉 ). However, I’ll become more cautious about getting specific on the sites I own and how much money I make. My monthly income report will be transformed into an “empire update” where I’ll do a round-up of what goes well and what doesn’t and about my upcoming projects. Unfortunately, there will be a few blank spaces here and there as I can’t take the risk to see my business going bust because of evilness in the world.

 

What do you think of all this? Have you regretted disclosing personal information with regards to your income or net worth?

 

I’m still shocked… now it’s time to go back to the drawing board… once again!

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