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Archive for February, 2012

It’s Friday, and I Got Nothing

It’s another one of those days.  I have some ideas for posts, but really don’t feel like writing anything.  The week seems like it has been very long, and I still have a lot more to do.  I am looking forward to working on Saturday as well as filling out the FAFSA.  No fun for me!

It is not the end of the month, so I really can’t do a monthly update or anything.  Neither is it the end of the quarter when I could update the progress on my dividends.  There hasn’t been that much progress on any other financial front this past week.  It has been a dull week for the most part.

I do have a few spots left for the new blog I am developing.  Check out the post and email me if interested.

Traffic is down somewhat across my two blogs.  I suppose that is because I am not running a giveaway like I did last month.  Revenue is down as well, but I have gotten something at least so I will be able to make an extra payment to my Discover Card debt in March.  Something is better than a stick in the eye.

I would post a few links or something, but I haven’t been keeping up on my reading very well, so I got nothing there either.  I guess the fact that I am working 67 hours this week has something to do with it.  Like I said, long week.

Carnivals

Instead, why don’t I just catch up on a few carnivals in which I was a participant and call it a morning.  I have 232 items in my Google Reader to look at.  It was 202 just a few minutes ago.  You all need to stop publishing so I can catch up.  I am still reading December’s BusinessWeek, too.  On to the carnivals:

Carnival of Financial Planning – Edition #222 – CFM
Yakezie Carnival – CFM
Canadian Finance Carnival #74 – CFM
Totally Money Carnival #54 – GPM
Festival of Frugality #322 – CFM
Carnival of Retirement #6 – both
Canadian Finance Carnival #75  – GPM
Yakezie Carnival – CFM
Carnival of Financial Camaraderie #20 – CFM

As you can see, I had gotten behind on posting this information as well.  Now I am off to get ready for work.  I hope everyone has a great weekend.  I will be busy.

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4 comments - What do you think?  Posted by Cash Flow Mantra - February 24, 2012 at 5:48 am

Categories: Uncategorized   Tags: , , ,

Starting Another Blog and Recruiting Writers

You may or may not have seen a few weeks back that I mentioned I was planning on starting another blog.  The problem is that I am incredibly busy and would need to rely on writers for generating content since with 6 kids and two other blogs and full-time employment, I am already burning the candle at both ends and through the middle.

So why would I even think about starting another project?  I want the experience of putting together a team and creating something very big from the ground up.  I want to help follow bloggers while testing my theory that collaborative efforts will enable us to achieve more than any of us could achieve singularly.  Finally, I wouldn’t mind making a little money in the process to help pay off some of my debt more quickly.  But I really don’t plan on making a killing since if the blog were sold, up to 80% of the sale price would be going back to the authors (find any other site that can say that).

The Past Few Weeks

First, I decided that the blog should be a personal finance type blog.  It is much of what many of the PF bloggers are doing already writing about saving money, making money, investing, etc.  Personal financial advice through personal experiences shared with those who seek some knowledge and helpful information by those who have been there, done that.

I also decided that if the blog wanted to attract a large audience with a goal of eventually being sold, then it should have lots of content and several voices.  I want to publish at least every weekday throughout the year so that there are 260 articles on the site after year 1.  Ideally, we could publish more than one article and do so each and every day of the week.  Having close to 1000 articles by the end of the first year would be very good and would help generate lots of traffic.

Now I could simply go out and hire staff writers to get to the 260 article point.  At roughly $20 per article for a decent writer, the cost would be $5200 for that first year.  I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to find that I could make a profit doing it this way.  However, I was looking for the project to be a more collaborative effort to see what the results might be.  That is why I have developed a somewhat unique compensation scheme for authors that rewards both baseline participation and additional efforts.

I have purchased the domain name and will be putting together the site.  The plan is to launch with the first published article going live on Monday, April 2nd.  I would love to have a total of 20 authors in place over the next week or two so that everyone can begin writing and getting the articles to me for scheduling.  Each author will be expected to contribute one article per month minimum and 20 for the year to participate in any profit sharing for the site.  There will be a maximum of 20 authors allowed as contributors so be sure to let me know quickly if you might be interested.

Quick Math on the Possibilities

Let’s assume that you participate as an author and the site does reasonably well over the next three years and ends up being sold for $1 million.  Based upon my novel compensation scheme, 50% of the sale price goes to the authors and is split evenly.  So in addition to any money made and any benefit to a personal blog that was derived during that time, the writer would get a 1/20th portion of $500,000 or $25,000 in a lump sum upon the sale.  There will also be a bonus pool for those going above and beyond the call of duty.  Something to think about.

If you think you are interested, shoot me an email at pleben.com@gmail.com and I will send you the full compensation scheme and other materials.  I will be limiting numbers to 20 so be sure to contact me.  I already have several authors lined up and am looking to get to 20 by March.  I will have a stand-by and waiting list to replace those who quit or fail to fulfill the minimum obligations.  Requirements for authorship:  You should have PF writing experience and be able to point to examples of your writing.  You should also have a PayPal account so I can send your compensation when received.  You should be nice and easy-going and understand the concept of delayed gratification.

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22 comments - What do you think?  Posted by Cash Flow Mantra - February 22, 2012 at 5:41 am

Categories: Earning   Tags: , , , , , , ,

FAFSA Fun for the Weekend

If this time of year and income taxes wasn’t enough fun and excitement for you, it is also that time of year when students planning for college in the fall (but more likely their parents) get to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also known as the FAFSA.  It has been my wonderful privilege of filling out this form the past two years since this is my oldest child’s sophomore year.  And now, I will get to fill it out again this year for her and her sister.  Yes, I will have 2 college students in the fall.

Since I enjoy filling out this kind of paperwork almost as much as going to the dentist, I have put it off for most of the month.  But since the ideal time to have it completed is before March 1st, guess what I will be doing this coming weekend.  I will be having loads of fun filling out the FAFSA.  Hopefully, it won’t be all that different filling out the information for two students as opposed to one.

College Financial Aid

The purpose of the FAFSA is to serve as a central depository of information that assesses the financial condition of a student and student’s family through questions on assets, liabilities, and income in order to come up with the amount that the student or family might be expected to contribute toward a secondary education.  This information is then used by colleges to help determine eligibility for various federal, state, or institutional programs.  These could include grants or scholarships, loans to students, loans to parents, or work programs.

Now I am certainly not an expert on paying for college, but I have learned a little about the various programs over the last couple years.

  • Grants–These are often based upon demonstrated financial need and do not need to be paid back.  The most well known would be the Federal Pell Grant program which has a maximum award of $5,500 per year.  There are other grants available if you meet certain criteria, such as losing a parent in Iraq or Afghanistan, so be sure to check those out.
  • Federal Work-Study Programs–These programs will typically enable a student to work at some on campus type job such as in the cafeteria or library and be paid on an hourly basis with the funds being used to pay for college expenses.
  • Federal Loan Programs–These go by different names such as Stafford and Perkins loans.  Each of the different loan programs have different requirements.  Some interest rates are better than others and there are various rules regarding deferment of payment and whether or not interest adds to principal or not.  It can get quite confusing to keep it all straight.  I don’t really have a great grasp on it all and have to look up the information.

Personal Bottom Line

For me personally, I have had enough debt and other expenses throughout the years that I am borrowing to help pay for my children’s education, but I am not sacrificing any retirement savings.  The interest rates are favorable so I am better off to pay the other debts first.  Of course, I will need to eventually pay back all of the college debt as well.  That will be part of my debt-free requirement in order to enter retirement.

We have managed to save some of the college cost since my kids have gotten some merit scholarships and some discounts for academic reasons.  They surely could be getting through with less expense, but it also could have cost a lot more.  I am probably in the middle of the road overall.  I am paying back the loans already and have included them in my net worth calculations.  I could certainly insist that my girls work two and three jobs during the school year to keep costs down, but I would rather have them get decent grades and get done in 4 years.  They can work during the summers and will work plenty over the years for sure.

Advice (If I Had it to Do Over)

So what would I advise if I had it to do over again?  I would probably not get in as much debt in the first place and try to minimize costs associated with having the kids in the first place.  Then I would have saved more which would have been easier had I not been in debt.  In other words, stay out of debt and save/invest as much as possible while the kids are growing up so that the costs of college can be paid from current savings.

Needless to say, it is impossible for me to go back and change anything, and it may be true for you as well.  But I am going to make the best of the situation in which I find myself and make the necessary adjustments to improve my financial situation in the future.  And that is why I am writing this blog.  Not because I am perfect or make the best decisions, but because I am learning.

I hope you enjoy this coming weekend.  I have a date with the FAFSA.

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12 comments - What do you think?  Posted by Cash Flow Mantra - February 20, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Categories: Spending, Credit/Debt   Tags: , , , , , , ,

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