Dec 30 2011

Things are falling apart, but it’ll be ok thanks to our extended warranty

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Earlier this week, we had our first real snowfall. It was maybe 2″, nothing crazy. I went out to shovel the walkway and get a quick burst of exercise, and I saw our mailbox at the end of the driveway. It was laying in the grass. What. I also spotted tire tracks leading from the street, to my mailbox, up my driveway a few feet, then back into the street.

It would have been nice if the driver rang my doorbell to apologize and make it right.

I live in a neighborhood with an HOA (and I don’t mind that, so far), but as such, everyone’s mailbox needs to be uniform. So, I contacted the company that handles our mailboxes. They’re out of the office until Tuesday. Not sure when I’ll get a new box or what it will cost. Surely it will cost less than my homeowner’s insurance deductible!

So…I’ve been going to the post office to pick up our mail.

——

Second — our car is in the repair shop. Again.

It was in the shop a month or so ago for a computer issue. Now, it’s in the shop for a different computer issue. The current problem could have caused the first problem.

Good news: Our car is still under extended warranty, and will be until May (we have a 6-year, 60,000 mile warranty). It’s not the first time we’ve had to use it, either. We’ve already used it for a shock problem and an alternator problem, and a few tows and jump-starts.

I really hope the car isn’t starting to just be old and have problems. It’s only 5.5 years old and has a mere 45,000 miles! We want to get another 10 years out of it, at least.

So. This part that we need. The guy at the dealership is telling me that the part has not been manufactured yet. Excuse me? I guess after-market parts do exist for this, but that wouldn’t be covered under the warranty. Oh, and the part will be made in Spain, and that will take extra time to get here.

First of all, I didn’t know Ford had a parts factory in Spain. And secondly, why don’t they have enough parts already made? I do plan to call Ford headquarters to confirm what the guy at the local dealership is telling me. It’s a weird.

The dealership is setting us up with a rental car from a rental car company. For a month. So that part is good, because that would stink for us to have to rent a car that long.

Our auto policy, I have now confirmed, does indeed cover rentals in this instance. We have the same coverage and same deductibles for this rental as we do for our own vehicle. Whew! The car rental agency was trying to sell me a $15 or $16/day insurance policy. Since we need this rental for probably a month, that’s like $400 in insurance. No thanks!

If our own car insurance didn’t cover this, I’d want the dealership to pay up.

We had to give the car rental place our credit card as a hold for damages. Our card does offer some insurance coverage, but I don’t know if it’s full coverage or just small incidental stuff.

I’m going to get in touch with Ford to see about extending our extended warranty and what that might cost. So far, it has definitely been worth it to us to have. We’ll have to see what options are available and weigh the cost vs. self-insuring and using our emergency fund to cover future repairs and car rentals.

Do you have an extended warranty? Has it been worth it to you? And has someone ever taken out your mailbox?


Dec 29 2011

How my blog earned $10,000 this year

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There’s a funny phenomenon when it comes to talking about money. I’m a money blogger, and yet, when it comes to my own income I’ve been quiet about it. The last time I mentioned my income specifics on here was … I can’t even find it. I’m digging through my archives and I think I’ve shared some things along the way, but more likely once this blog started making a little money, I stopped talking about it. I didn’t want to come across the wrong way.

Talking about income can be so taboo.

But that’s silly. This is a MONEY blog. You are here to read about finances, are you not? More specifically, my money and what I’m doing with it. I’m guessing you read here because you find me somewhat entertaining, but also so you can have some ideas to apply to your own situation.

So I’m going to tell you how much money I’ve earned with this ol blog. This blog’s income helped fund several of our money goals and for that, we are grateful. Totals you see are gross. Meaning, my actual take-home is way less when you count PayPal fees, blog hosting fees, and taxes. Taxes take a good third.

2007: I started this blog but it didn’t earn money

2008: $3,494

2009: $4,760

2010: $5,693

2011: $10,044

Lifetime total: $23,991 in blog gross earnings, take-home roughly $16k

That may not be much at all to you, but to me that is nothing to sneeze at! I’m looking at the difference between 2010 and 2011 and I’m scratching my head.

You might be, too. I didn’t post a ton. But my blog was older and advertisers found me fairly easily, and continued their advertising relationship. I am hopeful that 2012 will be a good year for me blog-wise, but it’s hard telling.

As you can probably tell from looking at my site, most of my revenue comes from sidebar advertisements. An advertiser will pay me a monthly or yearly fee in exchange for me placing their link in my sidebar. I have sold a lot of ads that way, and also via Linkworth* which matches up advertisers with my site. Unfortunately, this business model is not looked kindly upon by the big G search engine, and I’m phasing this out while I look for other ways to monetize.

My lifetime total of affiliate sales from Amazon* is $90.

My Ebates* year-to-date cash back is $92. Most of that this year is from my own purchases, but $20 of that was affiliate revenue. There was awhile back when I earned a lot from affiliate sign-ups on Ebates, but now I think most of you already have accounts (as you should! Totally easy, painless money).

I’ve earned $30 in Swagbucks* Amazon gift cards this year, and since I don’t have many referrals I think it was mostly my own searches and clicks.

Other bloggers might use this model, or they might earn income in other ways. They might be heavier on affiliate sales via Amazon or just any product they link to could net a commission for them if they have it set up right.

They might earn money through Google Adsense. Maybe they’re members of blog networks that provide ads and take commissions for their placement (such as Linkworth, or BlogHer). Or maybe they take money for sponsored or guest posts, or links within blog posts.

I don’t mind ads within a post if it’s marked as sponsored, but I don’t like it when bloggers don’t mention that a post is sponsored. Ya know?

Some bloggers create their own products — say ebooks, for instance, and sell them and make money that way. Or they make money by selling other people’s ebooks as an affiliate.

There are a variety of business models out there and each blogger will have to determine what will work best for him or her. As for me, I think I’m going to see if I can diversify my blogging revenue somewhat.

Since I’m being really open about my blog income, there’s one other thing I’ll tell you in the interest of being transparent. Recently, I shopped my blog around to see if I could find a buyer. I thought maybe I could find someone to take over all the web work and SEO and ads and…work, and then I could just write posts.

Or, if the price was right, I’d step away entirely. Before you get mad at me and never read this site again, I thought that if I could get the 1-2.5x my annual blogging income as a selling price, then yeah it would be worth it to sell and start another blog some time. I mean seriously, could you fault me if I could get $25k for this site?

Alas. I cannot. This blog is worth more to me than it is to a buyer. It’s a personal personal finance blog, and the ad model I have right now isn’t sellable.

I’ve had to think about why I am keeping my blog going. The prospect of another year of $10k gross is hard to ignore. Even a year of $5k gross is a lot of money to me. I could do a lot for my kids’ college funds with that.

But there’s more.

I do value the creative outlet it provides. Being a SAHM isn’t easy, and it can be isolating. I like the friends I have made through this site and I’d miss the interaction. Also, I’m really encouraged when some of you share that a post of mine helped you save some cash, or otherwise inspired you to do something to improve your finances. Further, you all inspire me to stay the course. It’s not like I’ve “arrived” financially or anything.

I’m not staying with my blog for the money, though it is a nice perk.

I hope that what I’ve written here hasn’t turned you off. I’m hoping that you’ll stay with me in the coming year.

In that vein, I’d like to perhaps outsource some of the more mundane tasks, such as the advertising and site maintenance stuff. I’m looking into prospects for that so I can stick with the parts that I enjoy most (writing and interacting with you!).

I’ll update my 2012 blog revenue next year and we can talk about what went well and what flopped.

Thank you for your readership! Without you, I wouldn’t have earned a nickel.

*Denotes affiliate link



Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (8), Vivienne (6) and Amelia (3) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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