Thursday, May 26, 2016

Two New Book Releases!

I just released books one and two in my three-part "Pandemic Diary" series.  They're available on  Book three is due out in August.



Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Keys to Successfully Selling on eBay

I’ve been selling on eBay for several years now, and the more I sell, the better I get at it.  And while online selling can have its ups and downs depending upon a variety of factors, I’ve realized that there are a few areas that have really made a significant impact upon my sales levels.  These relative constants are simple rules that I follow to make my products appeal to the masses, yet I’m surprised at how many competitor products I see on a regular basis not following what seem to be quite common sense rules.

Pictures, pictures, pictures
Pictures can be an integral part of the online selling process.  Especially when I’m trying to convey quality or give customers a better sense of the detail of the products I’m selling, ensuring that I have good pictures can mean the difference between a quick sale and no sale at all.

It’s amazing to me that with the availability of affordable cameras with very good picture quality and even the amazing photo quality of many cell phones these days, I still see a number of very poor quality pictures for online products.  From fuzzy photos, to poor lighting, bad camera angles, or just too few photos, there is little excuse these days for not providing customers with a decent idea of what a product looks like.

Detail and description
I make an effort to describe my products and be as detailed as possible when putting them out for customers to view.  I find that it goes against my personal views of ethical business practices to try to hide any flaws or defects.  Not only does this break my golden rule of doing business (treating others the way I would want to be treated), but they’re likely to discover such defects eventually anyway.  Not only would this likely disappoint buyers, but would probably result in a lack of repeat business as well as poor buyer ratings, which could in turn result in loss of good standing or even my seller account as a whole.

Reasonable pricing and affordable shipping and handling charges
While I would love to make a killing on every product I sell, this typically isn’t the case.  I have to balance my product prices with what is fair and reasonable, with what will make me a profit, and with what makes it worth the time it takes me to purchase, list and describe my item.  I also have to consider my competition’s prices when determining pricing of my own as well as how long it will take a product to sell at a particular price, which could affect my cashflow for purchasing additional inventory.

And while I would love to be able to pay the shipping and handling chargers for every product I sell online, sometimes it just isn’t profitable.  However, this doesn’t mean that I have to jack up my shipping charges to compensate.  For items where my profit margin allows, I sometimes offer free shipping.  For those items where my profit margin is a bit tighter though, I often pass this expense on to the customer.  Sometimes I charge a little less than it actually costs me to ship though, and share this expense with a buyer, helping to ease the pain for both sides.

The author is not a licensed financial or sales professional.  This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute advice of any kind.  Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader’s discretion.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Is an E-tirement In Your Future?

You might be asking yourself, “So what exactly is ‘e-tirement’?”  Well, in all honesty, and as far as I know, e-tirement is a term I developed to put a name with the Internet activities people utilize in their retirement years to earn additional income.

Now not everyone may be cut out for e-tirement, and not everyone will likely find such a retirement necessary or desirable, but for some, an e-tirement can make a substantial difference in the way they live and their quality of life during their golden years.  It can provide a sense of purpose and responsibility for those who miss the workplace but don’t necessarily want to work full-time during their retirement, as well as offer an alternative form of income for those who face an uncertain financial retirement future.

If you think e-tirement might be in your future, here are some things to consider as to how you might utilize the Internet to your advantage and how it may assist you in bolstering your retirement income.

How You Can Turn Interests into Money
With easy access to the Internet and all the resources it offers, there are a whole slew of money making opportunities that might present themselves to you -- or vice versa -- during your retirement.  You may discover that by picking up a new hobby in your retirement, such as starting a blog, writing, becoming a coin collector, searching for antiques and collectibles, or similar new found interest, there may be options to turn that hobby into cash. 

You may instead utilize skills or interests that you already have such as cooking (making cookies, cakes, cupcakes, and similar items may be a great way to do something you love while earning money), sewing (baby clothing, scarves, mittens, socks, or whatever -- since sewing seems to becoming somewhat of a lost art), selling sports memorabilia, finding used books at garage sales or resale shops that can be sold for cash online, starting your own Internet company, or similar money-making ideas to find new income streams.  By using the Internet to promote your activities and sell your products through options such as eBay, Craigslist, and numerous book, cd, and dvd resale venues, and with new options for resale of all sorts of items popping up constantly, you may discover that with a little extra time on your hands, you could convert the demand for resale into hefty profits for yourself.

You could even use your retirement location to earn you money.  I’ve heard of people writing personalized messages in beach sand, taking pictures of them, and then uploading them to be sold as digital greeting cards.

While it might take time to build your Internet income streams, in retirement, time might be a resource that is finally on your side.  Taking some of this time to read reviews, investigate tutorials, and discover the goods, bads, and uglies, of possible revenue producing venues or opportunities in which your are interested in pursuing could ensure that you have a better understanding of and safer experience with your e-tirement resources.

Income Booster
While participating in e-tirement might be a nice little income booster, you probably shouldn’t expect the world overnight.  While you may momentarily revel in the sense of accomplishment you get from starting your own blog, you may be sorely disappointed when you realize that it takes more than just having a blog to make any sort of real money.  The same will likely go for selling things on eBay, starting a small Internet business and similar e-tirement income supplements. 

While it’s great to go into such ventures with a full head of steam, it can also be important to temper your expectations and maintain a realistic approach as to just how quickly you will be able to jump into any type of revenue producing Internet activity and just how much money you will actually make from it.  This isn’t an attempt to dissuade you from trying out new ways of making an extra buck or two, but having grand illusions of million dollar money makers can lead to disappointment, skew your income expectations, and ruin what might otherwise have been a pleasant, peaceful, and happy retirement pastime.

Constraints and Considerations
If you plan to make your retirement an e-tirement, there may be several things you’ll want to consider first.  You could have great aspirations of partaking in all sorts of money making Internet activities and ventures, but beware, not all of the companies or people that are involved in such transactions are reputable.  You don’t want to jump into something headlong only to realize that it isn’t going to make your efforts worthwhile or worse yet, that you’re being taken advantage of or scammed.  This is why it can be important to ease into something slowly, conduct your due diligence by reading reviews by actual users of the service, and proceed with caution.

But there is more to consider in your e-tirement activities than just your personal and financial safety and security.   The money from e-tirement can be nice, but success can be a lot of hard work and may leave you putting in more hours than you had expected or frankly wanted to put into any such retirement endeavor.  This extra work can put constraints upon your time that you had not expected to encounter during your golden years.  This means that you might be left with less time to spend with family, to do your traveling, or to take part in other activities that you may have had planned during your retirement. 

Therefore, it is important to decide just how much time you want to devote to your e-tirement activities as well as how much you are willing to put in should they take off and become much larger forms of income and responsibility than you had initially planned.  Staying busy during retirement is one thing, and if you love what you are doing that’s great, but working full-time at e-tirement activities can negate the purpose of retiring in the first place. 


The author is not a licensed financial professional.  The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or financial advice.  For financial advice, readers should consult a licensed financial advisor.  Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader’s discretion.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Five Ways to Fight Rising Food Costs

I’ve been fighting food costs for years now; always looking for lower prices, new places to shop, and possible meal options to help economize.  And while I sometimes make use of coupons and online deals, these are only tools at my disposal; they can’t force me to take the steps that actually make me a smart shopper.  Fighting food costs is often more about frame of mind and creative food plans than just clipping a few coupons and hoping that the roulette wheel of deals that your grocer is offering for the week hits your culinary number.  If you’re willing to make a few simple changes however, rising food prices may not affect you as much as you think. 

Be Willing to Change
Plenty of us want to save money when it comes to our weekly shopping list, but we may be unwilling to change our ways when it comes to how or what we eat.  The vast majority of us probably eat the same meals week in and week out.  Breaking out of our culinary comfort zones to explore money saving food options is a step that many just aren’t willing to take.  I mean come on, it’s not as if we have to go out and grow these new foods ourselves.

I’ve never really liked reading cookbooks, but one day a while back, I decided to crack one open and take a look.  It was amazing at how quickly I came up with some new and creative ideas just by flipping through the pages for a couple of minutes.  I didn’t even have to read all the prep and cooking instructions to get a variety of new recipe ideas.  It’s not something I particularly enjoyed, but I’m willing to do it once in a while in order to save money. 

It’s like having to go to a new grocery store.  I get pleasantly settled in my routines as I imagine many of us do, but the last time I tried a new grocery store, I found that it could reduce our weekly shopping budget by nearly 20%.  Sure glad I was willing to consider changing!

Have a Plan
In our family, we take a whopping five minutes before we go to the store each week and come up with a menu list to put on the dry-erase board affixed to our refrigerator (which also acts as our grocery list throughout the week).  This helps us pinpoint any items we may have left off our grocery list during the week.

By paying attention to the deals that are running at our regular stores and clipping coupons in advance, we not only prepare for what we need for the week, but should there be good buys on items that have a longer shelf life or can be frozen, we try to plan for following weeks as well.

Don’t Ignore Deals
Just because you have a plan when you head out to the store, doesn’t mean you can’t explore other options.  I try to think of deals at the grocery store like investments.  If you know you can save money buy purchasing groceries that you’ll be sure to use at a discounted price, rather than paying full price down the road, it’s like money in the bank.
While this isn’t the go ahead to get crazy and bust your budget loading up, if there are deals to be had, you know you’ll eventually use what you are buying, and you have the available money, it makes sense to stock up.

Don’t think you need three pounds of bacon when it’s on sale for 99 cents a pound?  Why not?  If you eat bacon, you can always freeze it for later (check out the USDA site for facts on freezing food).  See a great buy on coffee, flour, sugar, or similar food stuffs that you know you will eventually need, are long-lasting, and are on sale? 

I love when this happens because I just stick the things in my pantry (or my freezer, depending on the item), then when the time comes that I need them, I just walk downstairs, grab it, and go.  It makes me feel even better when I then see that same item at the store for double what I bought it for last month.  And the next time that same sale comes around, I’ll probably buy it again.

Think Needs Not Wants
When it comes down to it, there are actually very few things we actually need to form the basis of a variety of meals.   The basics, things like milk, eggs, bread, flour, butter, and sugar, are still relatively cheap -- as least compared to gasoline.  Even things like meat can often be found at discounted prices if you spend a little time looking.

Every purchase I make, I pause a moment to consider if I really do need it.  Just this simple action, which takes but a second, is often enough to give me pause to reconsider my purchase one last time.  And sometimes it is enough to have me putting the item back on the shelf where it belongs.  Sure, that beer looks refreshing on a hot day, but is it a need?  Gosh those cupcakes look good, but are they a need?  Man would I love to have that $16 steak versus the $3 thin cut beef, but is it a need?  The answers -- no, no, and no!


The author is not a licensed financial professional or food or dietary professional.  The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or financial advice.  For financial advice, readers should consult a licensed financial advisor.  Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader’s discretion.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Recent Release of the Followup to the Systemic Series -- Aftermath -- Now Available!

Just wanted to let everyone know that the followup to the Systemic Series -- Aftermath (parts 1-3) is now out and available on!


On Sunday, December 20th, I'm running a promotional free giveaway of Aftermath: Part I!  Make sure to stop in and pick up your free copy!  Enjoy!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Free eBook Giveaway on Sunday, November 1st!

Welcome in the new month with a free eBook copy of book #4 in the Systemic series: "Forsaken".  Be sure to pick up your copy at on Sunday, November 1st!

Thanks!  And hope you enjoy!

We do a Spending “Reset” Every Year

Like many other people, we have regular monthly and annual budgets by which we abide.  We also track our expenses throughout the year to gauge our spending.  However, just because expenses have been at a certain level throughout the year or even previous years, it doesn’t mean that we necessarily assume they’ll remain the same moving forward.  Things can change quickly at times when it comes to all sorts of various financial situations such as living location, type of living environment, size of family, job and career situation, health and medical costs, and more.

Therefore, we do a spending “reset” each year to ensure that we’re on the right financial path before we get too far along.

Reviewing last year’s budget and final totals
At the start of each year, I finalize our previous year’s budget and review the overall numbers.  This allows me to see what our total expenses were, what our estimated expenses were, how close we came to these estimates, what unexpected costs (or savings) were realized, where high and low cost months were and why, and compare overall costs to overall income to see whether we made or lost ground in our efforts to grow assets.

Adjusting for the new year
Once I’ve analyzed last year’s numbers, I can harness the data I’ve gleaned from those numbers and use them in making adjustments for the upcoming year.  This allows me to make changes in our budget forecast based upon not just one prior year’s information, but since we track this information every year, over multiple years to help smooth out the hills, valleys, and hiccups that occur throughout a single year.  Things like relocating, buying a new vehicle, buying a home, having a child, major home repairs and the likes can skew a year’s financial data, but over time, we can get a better average of overall costs and cost inflation.

Forecasting for the following year, but…
With such information in hand, I typically forecast our budget out by several years.  This is helpful since it allows me to better plan for major purchases and determine where income needs to be as well as where we might find cost savings over time.  However, I’m realistic when doing this.

I realize that things related to medical costs, home repairs, growing children, career changes, and similar items will come into play and may make my multi-year forecasts irrelevant or even obsolete.  Therefore, while my budget forecast helps with long-term planning when it comes to larger purchases and our overall financial pictures, I tend to take it with a grain of salt since as a family of four our costs are constantly changing and evolving each and every year.


The author is not a licensed financial professional.  This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute advice of any kind.  Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader’s discretion.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Free eBook Giveaway of "Forsaken" on Sunday, October 25th and Wednesday, October 28th!

Get your free eBook copy of Forsaken -- book 4 in the Systemic series -- at on Sunday, October 25th and Wednesday, October 28th!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Why Diversification Might Help You with Your Greatest Money Issue…Fear

Scared of money?  Impossible you might say.  People love money, right?  So how could they be scared of it?  But I hear time and again how people like to carry credit cards rather than cash so they don’t have to worry about it being lost or stolen.  I hear how people worry about identity theft and their financial information being stolen.  I read about the fear of inflation eating away at savings or fear of a stock market collapse.  There’s even a song by Notorious B.I.G entitled, “Mo Money, Mo Problems.”  So obviously, money fear is an issue for some people. 

So how could diversification help with combating such fears?

A nice combination of real and imaginary
Even though shares of stock might technically be “pieces of a company” this doesn’t necessarily translate to the shareholder directly as actually owning something physical.  For example 1000 shares of a car company doesn’t necessarily mean you own an actual part of an assembly line, six vehicle engines, or a vehicle itself.  Therefore, I consider things like stocks, bonds, ETFs, futures contracts, and non-physical commodities as more imaginary investments based purely on the faith that someone will compensate you monetarily for your shares rather than provide actual physical goods or services for those shares.

This might be best illustrated with commodities.  Owning futures contracts or ounces of silver or gold through paper contracts doesn’t necessarily mean that someone is actually setting these precious metals aside in some vault somewhere.  Meanwhile, if I go out and buy actual coins or bars and put them in a safe deposit box, I own actual precious metals.

Therefore, diversifying my investments between real (physical), and imaginary (promised) assets can make me feel better about my money and hedge against finding out down the road that the metals in my account were never there to begin with.

Winning a little a lot
Don’t you hate when the stock market is on the downturn and day after day you see your account balance fall?  But what if at the same time you owned gold or real estate and these values were increasing?  Or what if while gold and the housing market were trending down, the stock market was going up?  Or what if your US stock market holdings were down while your Asian or European holdings were up?

There are a variety of scenarios to play with, but my point is that when you’re well-diversified, you may see wins in different areas which could balance out or even exceed your losses.  While they might not be as big of wins, they are wins nonetheless, and as I mentioned previously, they may help take some of the sting out of losses in other areas.  Not only this though, they may help keep up your motivation to continue saving and investing, even when longer investment downturns take place.


The author is not a licensed financial professional.  This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute advice of any kind.  Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader’s discretion.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Get Your Free eBook Copy of "Descent" on Wednesday, October 21st!

Get your free eBook copy of "Descent" -- book #3 in the Systemic Series -- at on Wednesday, October 21st!

Some of My Best Money Habits Come in Pairs

I’ve developed a number of good money-related habits over the years.  And during this time, I’ve come to realize that some of my best money habits seem to come in pairs.  While I didn’t necessarily mean for it to happen this way, it has.  And in the process, these pairings have helped me better organize our family’s overall personal financial data.

Tracking not just expenses but income too
As a college student, I was forced to track expenses by my parents, but as an adult, I found this exercise in personal finance very rewarding.  Over the years, tracking my expenses have allowed me to gauge things like personal rates of inflation, determine where and how I was spending my money, as well as look for places to cut costs or spend more efficiently.  However, as I entered the working world, I realized that this was only half the battle, especially once I became self employed.

Gauging not just expenses, but income too allows me to determine when in the year I break even (income outweighs expenses) or whether or not I’m going to break even, which tells me that I either need to cut costs or increase income.  It also helps me gauge from where my income is deriving, in what amounts, and where I should or could better focus my income-earning energies and resources.

Budgeting AND forecasting
In my younger days (i.e. college), I kept a budget.  Each month, I would set out a limit for my spending in different categories and then track my costs throughout the month trying to match or beat that budgeted number.  However, I eventually realized that just about every month was different in some way.  Either there’d be an unexpected expense or an expense like vehicle insurance or holiday shopping that in the back of my mind I knew was coming but for which I still wasn’t fully prepared for.  This would in turn throw my monthly budget off, and I would find myself trying to cut costs the following month to compensate.

Therefore, I eventually realized that it was beneficial not just to budget monthly, but to forecast expenses out for the entire year – and eventually multiple years – in an effort to better prepare me for all the costs that I would encounter.  This made it much easier to more accurately budget, and over the years this allowed me to refer back to prior budgets in an effort to refine my forecast predictions for upcoming months and years.

Shopping AND selling resale
For years, our family has been good as shopping resale.  We’d find bargains at resale shops, consignment stores, antique malls, online, and garage sales.  And while we’d save a lot of money buying items through such venues, we eventually realized that we could make some good money through reselling at the same such venues.

With the internet making it easier than ever to find buyers for used items, we’ve turned our passion for shopping resale into a passion for selling resale items as well, improving our financial situation on both sides of the coin.


The author is not a licensed financial professional.  This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute advice of any kind.  Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader’s discretion.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Columbus Day Giveaway!

Get your free ebook copy of "Downfall" -- book #1 in the Systemic Series -- at on Monday, October 12th!!