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Archive for March, 2012

Blogging Through Debt

The following is a guest post:

As a community manager for a really large debt relief company, talking about debt is part of my daily routine.  We produce a lot of content about all things personal finance, with an obvious focus on debt.  The bulk of our bloggers are our customers and they talk about what life is like when you enroll in a debt consolidation or debt settlement plan.

I feel really fortunate to have the ability to showcase content like this, which provides honest and straightforward accounts of debt relief services.  Debt help is a tough thing to research and brings some heavy skepticism.  The skepticism is justified as there are many players in this industry who do not operate with the customer’s best interest in mind.

Offering our customers a platform to discuss their experience with debt relief plans, the good and the bad, really helps to overcome some of the negative stereotypes that plague credible debt relief service providers.  It is also extremely important as a research and educational tool for people seeking help with their debt.  Consumers really need to take the time to understand what is involved to be successful with these debt solutions.

Reading blogs similar to what we feature in our community can help to level set expectations about; how long it can take to pay off your debts, what happens to your ability to secure new credit while enrolled, and what educational resources will be available while you’re participating.  We also share blogs by graduates of our debt relief plan so that consumers can see what life is like without debt and dependence on credit cards.

If you are seeking help with your debt, I encourage you to check out this checklist.  It’s a great guide to help you evaluate debt relief providers.

Suzanne Coblentz is a Social Media and Community Manager for CareOne Services, Inc. a Provider of the CareOne Brand of Debt Relief Services.

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3 comments - What do you think?  Posted by Cash Flow Mantra - March 29, 2012 at 7:44 pm

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

Making Money with HubPages Ad Program

When I first started writing online, I was frightened to start my own blog.  I was intimidated by WordPress and the thought of self-hosting.  I wasn’t sure that it made sense to pay for setting up a blog.  So I sought out totally free options and made it my goal to only devote time and not any personal funds to any online venture that I might undertake.

One of those sites that I happened to run across in May of 2009 when I started writing online was HubPages.  It provided me a “free” (or should I say “nothing out of pocket”) platform for writing.  So I started writing while reading and learning about keywords, SEO and ways of monetizing a site.

I signed up for the Amazon affiliate program and earned a little bit of money by placing Amazon capsules in my Hubs.  I also was earning with Google’s AdSense program.  Things seemed to be growing rather nicely until the Panda update about one year ago.  I saw traffic to my Hubs drop by more than 50% and earnings with AdSense drop by even more.

Panda Was a Good Thing

It turns out that the Panda Update was just the kick I needed to push past my fear and apprehension for starting something on my own.  I was also affected by the shutting down of the eHow writer’s compensation program and could no longer make any money using that platform.  So taking some of the money that I had sitting in the PayPal account from eHow, I decided to launch my own site.

I started out with Weebly, still afraid to go for it all alone and discovered that I enjoyed the blogging nature of writing content online versus a static site.  Ultimately, Cash Flow Mantra was the result of this journey, and I must confess that I wish I had started sooner.  It has been a great opportunity for me to meet fellow bloggers and interact.

My experience here has led to the formation of a second main blog, Grand Per Month.  I know several of you read that one as well for which I am incredibly thankful and grateful.

More Changes Coming

Which leads me to the point of this post.  There have always been changes to the internet landscape.  It will continue to shift and evolve with an occasional earthquake hitting.  Those that can adapt will survive.  I intend to be one of the survivors.  I am gradually making more money with the HubPages Ad Program and will be reinvesting those funds to hire writers for more blogs in the future.

In March, I will make just over $40 which will pay for about half of my paid content on Grand Per Month.  By the end of the year, I expect it to pay for all of it.  Then, I can start another blog or site and continue to grow.  I think that it will pay to be diverse in numbers of sites and types of platforms as well as methods to obtain traffic.

Ultimately, my goal is to grow my online income slowly and surely obtaining a nice base.  I view it as a marathon and not a sprint and have been planning for 5% monthly growth over the past 2 years.  I have been hitting these targets and will do what it takes to continue to grow in a sustainable manner.  I would like my online income to help pay off my debt more quickly as it has been doing.  Making extra payments will help the monthly cash flow which is what this blog is about.

Fellow bloggers, what changes have you needed to overcome online?

 

12 comments - What do you think?  Posted by Cash Flow Mantra - March 28, 2012 at 9:44 am

Categories: Earning   Tags: , , , , , ,

When to Buy Extended Warranties

If you are coming to my blog from Tight Fisted Miser, I would like to welcome you.  Stick around, read an article or two, and feel free to subscribe.

One of the greatest things about personal finance is that it is so personal.  You can take some thoughts or ideas that you read and apply them to your particular situation.  Not all of the information may be applicable at the time, but it may very well be something that you can tuck away for the future to be used at a later date.

While most of the PF blogging world would advocated against buying an extended warranty, I would like to explain why there are certain situations when I think it make sense.  I know that it has made sense for me with certain products.

Warranties Based Upon Time

One has to understand that I have six kids and there are certain items for which it makes sense to purchase an extended warranty, and these are the items that are based upon time and not usage.  For example, we use our dishwasher twice per day at a minimum.  Paying $600 for a dishwasher and adding $100 for a four year warranty is worth it to me since I know that I will be putting between 8 and 12 years worth of use on that dishwasher.

It was just last spring that at about the 3 year mark our dishwasher needed a new motor.  We ended up getting a new motor for free when the cost would have otherwise been $360.  Now I can figure that I can get another 2 years or so out of the dishwasher before needing to either repair or replace.  The warranty was solely based upon time so it makes more sense for me to get it than an old retired couple that might run it 2 times per week.

The same holds true for the washing machine and dryer.  I purchased the same four year warranty for these appliances as well.  Again because we run about 2 loads of laundry per day on average to keep everyone in clean clothes, it only makes sense that the wear and tear on this appliance is well above average compared to the typical family.  About 2 years ago, we had to have the washing machine motor replaced which would have been a $600 repair.  Instead, it was absolutely free.

On the other hand, we don’t bother with the extended warranty on vehicles or computers.  The amount of traveling that we have to do with 6 kids involved in activities is quite substantial.  The fact that these types of warranties are based on mileage doesn’t work well for our family.  Our Chevy Suburban turns 3 years old this month and has 102,000 miles on it.  Much of the mileage is highway as well.  It doesn’t make sense to waste the money on a warranty.  Instead, we try to keep the vehicle in top working order and repair what is necessary.

Computers, on the other hand, are either purchased as cheaply as possible for the kids to do schoolwork on or are used by the adults only in the house.  I have now had 3 laptops in about twelve years.  The first one lasted for five years and the next one for four.  I am on year two for the current laptop which is used for work, blogging, and personal projects.

My feeling is why pay almost 25% again the cost of a computer that I can likely take very good care of and make last for several years past any warranty.  Plus when the computer finally dies, I usually benefit from the added features of the new technology such as wireless and processing speed.

So, these are my thoughts on extended warranties.  For me, I have found something that seems to work.

Readers, what is your experience with extended warranties?  Have you purchased and wished you hadn’t or vice versa?  Share in the comments.

 

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10 comments - What do you think?  Posted by Cash Flow Mantra - March 26, 2012 at 9:00 pm

Categories: Spending   Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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