Web Content Writing Jobs to Earn Money At Home

With millions of websites around – and 1000s of them still getting added every single day – the Internet has to be the biggest revolution of our times. More websites would mean more web pages which necessitates frequent updating of their content as well as fresh information added so that the these websites can attract more visitors (relevant website traffic). This is where the job of content writers come into the picture.

What is content writing?

Content writing is all about creating and editing web page content for the consumption of the website visitors or readers. These contents should be typed in and copy edited in a way that it is attractive for visitors that hit a website via searching (i.e. via search engines such as Google or via shared links on Socia media sites such as Facebook).

Properly written web content should be able to drive traffic to websites via proper use of keywords and phrases that people actually search for. This optimization part of the content is known as SEO or Search Engine Optimization. Content writing can be done for regular websites, blogs (weblogs), forums or advertising/promotion pages.

In short a content writer creates and copy-edits relevant information for certain websites in a way that it helps promote Internet traffic. If you have writing skills, then creating search optimized content is something that can be easily learned.

Where to find Content Writing Jobs?

As I just mentioned, to become a content writer, all that you need good command over written language. Obviously, you need to focus on the content organization, grammatical quality and formatting aspects as well. Then you need a computer that is connected to the Internet to receive your job orders and submit them via emails or directly via page submissions after completing the work from home.

Where to find content writing jobs? Well, if you search on Google for ‘content writing jobs’ or ‘seo content writing’ you should be able to find a lot of job opportunities. A good place to get some initial content writing assignments would be web forums (check out DP forums content creation section).

Your typical earnings for writing content would be $2 to $8 per page (or 500 words) to start with though the rate will go up with you becoming more and more experienced.

Overall, content writing is an excellent work at home opportunity for those who like to write. We will be back with another work from home suggestion in the next article in this section.

Investment After Retirement

So you have accumulated a handsome amount of your money in your retirement savings and you are eligible for Social security. Now the question from most retired people is ‘What are the best investment options after retirement?’

Before answering this question, let us talk about what factors post retirement could affect your investment decisions.

Risk: After retirement, since you don’t have a regular job that brings in monthly income, you may want to go for conservative investment (low risk) options that do not deplete your original investment.

Maintenance effort: Some investments such as real estate may require a lot of human effort to take care of it in terms of maintenance. If you don’t have energy and people around you to manage the same, you better avoid such investments. Retired life is meant for peace and not to generate additional headache and pressure.

Frequency of returns: Your post retirement investment should offer regular returns so that you can meet your monthly budget requirements with the same.

Your monthly budget: What’s the amount of money you require for a typical monthly budget.

Excess money saved up: What’s that excess amount of money that you have saved up beyond what’s required for your retired life (Read: How much money do I need to retire?)

Your best investment options

The following are some of the investment options for your retirement life as they offer less aggressive and low risk route.

  • Monthly Income Plans
  • General Bond funds (short term)
  • Government Bond funds (short term)
  • Bank Savings accounts

Ensure that you check out the Morning Star ratings your instruments before making an investment decision.

Avoid these investments

The following is only a guideline on investment types to avoid. Of course, if you have several millions in your hand after all those regular income investments and wondering where to throw your money, you may consider one or more of these as well.

  • Stocks, shares and other equity market linked products
  • Illiquid investments
  • Real estate
  • Precious metals and stones
  • Forex

In summary, enjoy your retired life without taking risks with respect to your investments.

Free Home Budget Apps

Home budgeting is never easy! The more you think about it, the tougher it gets. There are several frugal family budgeting tips, tricks and books out there but none of them are going to work unless you record and track your income, expenses and transactions. This is where a home budget software can be handy.

And when it is FREE software, life gets even more interesting.

Free and Best Home Budget Software

The following are some of the coolest home budget software and apps out there in the market that are FREE to download and consume.

1. Accounts and Budget Freeware

Most home budget apps can be really confusing with numerous menus and options but you have got to check out this one. With very few menus and well-labeled buttons, this particular software is rated the best home budget software in the free category. It includes a budget planner, due date reminder for your bills apart from having the features to record all your transactions and providing beautiful graphs.

accounts-and-budget

You may Download Accounts and Budget Freeware Here

2. Checkbook Ease Freeware

This software – as the misleading name suggests – is NOT only for managing your checkbooks but it takes care of your budgeting needs as well. Basically you start with entering your bank account balances, outstanding loan and credit details and you are ready to go and get ONE view of your finances. The software has a bit of learning curve initially but once you are get used to it, it’s super easy to do the daily maintenance. After all, what more can you expect out of a free product?

checkbook ease

Download Checkbook Ease from CNET

3. Personal Finance Home

Personal Finance Home organizes every family member’s income and the categories of expenses – personal as well as for the whole family. Every possible category of expense including mortgage, insurance, gas, groceries etc are neatly catalogued and managed within this never expiring trial software.

personal finances home

Download Personal Finances Home

If you are willing to pay a few dollars on an awesome Home Budget Software with upgrade, help and support please check out YNAB (You Need A Budget) – Personal Finance Software.

Life can’t get any better than that!

What is A Home Equity Loan?

Home Equity Loan Explanation: A home equity loan is an additional (secondary) loan taken against the value of your home. In other words, home equity loans are secured consumer loans for which the collateral would be the borrowers’ equity in their homes.

Now, what is home equity? Home equity is nothing but the difference between a property’s cost and its value.

The money raised via home equity loans can be used for any purpose related or unrelated to your home or property. You could use this money for your children’s education, for further furnishing or extension of your home or even to pay off your high interest debts or credit card dues. The home equity loan interest rates are usually lower than car loan rates and hence it may make sense to use your home as collateral to buy a vehicle.

The interest on home equity loans is tax deductible.

In order to apply for a home equity loan, one should have a decent credit history. There may be finance institutions that provide home equity loans for people with bad credit. However, you may take extra care while signing up with such deals and especially be aware of hidden charges etc.

Home equity loans have their pros and cons as in the case of any other loan types. The advantages include low interest rates, fast approval and possibility to use the loan amount for any purpose as mentioned above. The main disadvantage of home equity loan is that your home needs to be appraised for its home equity that can be secured against your loan. Also, home equity loans are available only if the owner is occupying the home under consideration.

Just like the case of selling a car with a lien, selling a home with a home equity loan on it usually requires you to pay a penalty remove the loan.

Taking an additional loan by using your existing home as the collateral is an exercise that has to be done after analyzing the above pros and cons. If used judiciously it can really work to manage your finance needs.

Difference Between Visa and Mastercard

‘Should I go for a Visa or MasterCard’ is one of the first questions you ask yourself while trying to procure a credit card? Is either of them better than the other with respect to acceptability, credit rating etc would be the next set of questions. In this short article, let me try to answer these questions one by one.

In fact there is very little difference between Master card and Visa. Mastercard and Visa being the leading credit card brands, they are the ones that people usually compare with though there are four to five other popular brands (i.e. Discover, American Express OPEN, Diners Club) as well.

Who exactly are Mastercard and Visa?

Mastercard and Visa ARE NOT banks nor do they issue credit cards to anybody. What they instead do is to enable computerized networks that take care of millions of daily financial transactions resulting from credit card purchases, ATM withdrawals using the card etc. These companies generate licensing revenue by letting the financial institutions and banks issue their brand of credit cards (i.e. with Visa or Master Emblem) and allowing them to use their networks.

Being the Coke and Pepsi in their business segment, both these companies offer similar benefits to their customers. Some of the benefits that are offered by credit cards include travel insurance, rented car insurance, liability limits, premium membership benefits etc. Both of them are accepted worldwide regardless of the respective card company’s claims of being accepted more than the other.

So, Mastercard or Visa?

The answer is very simple. If you are applying for your first credit card, go for the best deal out there that doesn’t have any annual fee, hidden charges etc but offers the lowest interest rates or 0% APR. In addition, you might want to choose the bank that is the most convenient for you (e.g. the bank where you have your checking account, though not mandatory)

If you are going for a second card, it is always better to go for the other brand than your first card to increase your acceptance coverage. And also, you could just swipe the Mastercard if the Visa network is just busy to accept your transaction or vice versa.

So the final short answer is there’s hardly any difference between Mastercard and Visa! They are both widely accepted world wide and for any kind of online shopping. And when it comes to the bad aspects, isn’t the credit system itself bad for personal finance?

Blog Home Business

One of the most exciting and low (or nil) investment home business opportunity is blogging.

What is a weblog?

A weblog (or simply blog) is more like an online diary where you keep writing stuff of your interest or hobby, share pictures and videos and further discuss those topics with your readers of similar interests. In other words, you write (post) things as and when you get ideas or thoughts in an online space and it is publicly available for anyone to read and share.

Advantages of blogging business

Basically, blogging can be done from anywhere and anytime. All that would need is an Internet connected PC or laptop and some free time. For that matter you can even blog from a mobile phone. You don’t need to have an office space or hire people to run it and whenever income starts coming in it is all yours. Moreover, it is a great hobby that improves your writing skills while fetching in a huge number of readers for your thoughts from across the globe.

How do blogs make money?

Well, you do not start making money immediately. But as you keep posting more and more and articles, people (not just your friends and family people) start visiting your blog via search engines (such as Google or Yahoo) or via shared links on Facebook etc. With your blog visitors increasing, you have great potential to include advertisements on your blog. These advertisement networks (such as Google AdSense) pay you based on the number of visitors or clicks on those ads.

And making money while blogging isn’t all about blogging itself. After all, you are working from home, prefferrably in your PJ’s, and on your laptop! You can write articles for other people and charge a tidy sum if you are churning out quality content. Likewise, you can voice your thoughts on Opinion Outpost and get paid for it!

Tip: Please note that you have to wait for at least six months and have a good number of posts (say 30 or 40) on your blog before applying for a free account with these Ad networks.

How to Create a Blog?

It is in fact as easy as 1-2-3 if you go with free blogging platforms.

As a beginner in blogging, it is good to get started with the known free blogging services such as Blogger by Google. Once you visit blogger.com, you can sign in using your Google account (or create one).

After logging into Blogger.com, based on what kind of topics you want to write on your blog, you have to choose a name for your blog. Try to choose a blog name that makes sense (e.g. Mel’s Gardening Blog) and depending on that name you have to choose an address (URL) for your blog (For example, melgardeningblog.blogspot.com).

Tip: For making money from your blog it is always better to stick to one specific niche (e.g. gardening, cooking, pets, parenting etc) as your blog’s main content category. Generic personal blogs do not command the same monetizing potential as niche blogs

After the settings are complete, you can now start customizing the look and feel of your blog by picking one of the color schemes and templates. Then you need to fill in other details such as blog title and description, a short profile of you and probably the very first post on what your blog stands for. After that it is all your world and you can start writing posts organized into well defined labels and categories.

Tip: To popularize your blog, be a visitor to other similar blogs, make comments there (using your blog address and your name) and be part of the community that you belong to. You will be surprised that you actually make numerous blog friends around you that helps increasing the traffic. You may also share your blog posts in your Facebook or other social network accounts

After a few months into blogging and having created some good content, you can start monetizing your blog using Google AdSense or by promoting certain affiliate products through your blog. I shall talk about the blog monetizing strategy very soon in another article here. Another related topic to blogging is to have your own blog domain name (e.g. melsgardeningblog.com) which is again the topic for another article. However, if you need to register a domain name and a good hosting package, HostGator is one of the best hosting providers to begin with. You may check out this hostgator coupon site to check out the latest hosting coupons and deals.

Good luck with your Blog home business initiative!

Budgeting: Frugal family Budgeting Tips

Frugal living is all about knowing your finances, good planning and by living by that plan. A lot of people in fact know their money and do some amount of planning as well if not the best plans. But tracking and going by the plan is where most people fail.

In this article, let us talk about the planning or frugal budgeting part alone

How to create a frugal budget?

Everyone who wants to live frugally needs to have a family frugal budget prepared. And this is how you go about the same.

  1. Add up your income (I): Total your monthly earnings including salary income, interest income, rental related money inflow etc. Let us call this figure ‘I’. At the moment, let us worry about only the steady monthly income and NOT any annual income such as bonus. We will need it later for annual expenses
  2. Project your monthly expenses (X): Now make a list of all your monthly expenses including your bills, grocery, kids education, eating out expenses, movies, shopping etc. Let us call this total monthly figure ‘X’. Again, you have to exclude expenses that are recurring and predictable. Any expense that occur only annually or once in several months do not figure here yet
  3. Check your monthly balance sheet: Subtract your expenses from income (i.e. I – X in the above example. If you are left with surplus amount, you are fine (though we can still minimize expenses by going frugal further). But if you are left with a deficit, you need to rework your budget a few times
  4. Rework: If you are left with a deficit in step 3, go over the expenses list and start cutting your luxury expense items first (e.g. eating out, movies, entertainment, shopping) and then go through your food and grocery list for excess items
  5. Debt and investments: If you have any credit card or other debts, you have to focus on reducing these debts at the earliest. Look into your budget and see how much you can squeeze it further to meet debt closure expenses every month (call it ‘D’). Further after keeping part the money for debt reduction, you need to start planning for your contingency funds and other investments for the future. Here you can also add up the money for any annual vacation etc. Let us call this the savings amount or ‘S’
  6. Annualized income (A): Next, consider all those income that comes to you on an annual basis for example your annual bonus or dividends. One twelfth of this annual income can be added as your monthly income figure
  7. Assess and rework:
    Your income-expense formula now is (A / 12) + I – X – D – S. If this is showing surplus, you are doing fine. Otherwise again you have to go about working on your expenses or find new residual income streams. Once you have figured out what to do, it is time to freeze your budget
  8. Live by your plan: The most important thing now is to live by the plan that you have created without spending a single penny more than what is planned. You are free to save more if you can. See how things go for a few months and if things are not looking good, you have to work with your plan again

Other frugal planning tips

The most important items in your expenses are debt reduction related expenses, retirement related investments, food related expenses etc in that order. Never postpone your debt payments and be ready to sacrifice your luxury items until you are debt free.

Frugal plans are made to execute and hence never dump them. You have to keep checking your plan and see how the execution goes every few days. Tracking is as important as planning.

Always plan for contingencies and unexpected expenses but never plan expecting an unpredictable stream of income or lottery.

Avoid investing in risky instruments such as stock market, until you are totally debt free. Even after that, you may exercise caution while deciding on what instruments to invest in.

Wishing you good success in your frugal life!

Home Mortgage Disclosure Act

Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA or HUM-duh) is a federal act that was enacted in 1975 that requires home mortgage lenders or federal home loan banks in the US to disclose information regarding their lending practices.

The importance of Home Mortgage Disclosure Act

The information provided as part of this act is beneficial for the borrowers because it provides all details such as the number of pre-approvals made by the lender, loan amounts requested, number of approved and granted loans etc.

The act helps the authorities monitor the lenders’ activities and make sure that the government approved resources meant for mortgages are rightly disbursed by the lenders. The main beneficiaries are the borrowers.

In addition to displaying the public disclosure of the data on the lenders premises, this can be viewed online on the FFIEC website.

In short, the borrowers have at their disposal all information regarding the history of the lender. Such disclosures made not only helps the home loan industry run their business fairly but also helps the lender to pick and compare potential lenders.

Loan Application Registry

The details recorded by the lenders in their loan application registry (LAR) include the following information on every single loan processed by them.

  • The loan amount
  • The loan purpose
  • Type of property
  • Type of loan
  • Location (State/County)
  • Race, Ethnicity and Gender of the borrower
  • Loan approval status
  • Any reason for denial and if so the interest rate proposed
  • Secondary market selling details of the loan if any

Next time you apply for a home loan, you might want to look at your lenders online records. You may not be interested in individual records but a consolidated history of the lenders reputation over the past few years might definitely help you as a home loan mortgage.

Don’t you think that the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act has made your life as a borrower a lot better?

APR vs Interest Rate in Credit Cards

When you are going for a credit card, you are often misled by the credit card offers that guarantee 0% APR, no hidden fees etc. However, before you take a decision on going for a new card or switching to another option, you need to know the following credit card numbers that matter.

Interest rate vs APR

An Interest rate is an annualized percentage charged by the bank or lender to draw profit from the loaned amount. The interest rate is used to calculate the payment due on a monthly basis. These monthly payments have the principal repayment part as well as the interest part.

The APR or Annual Percentage Rate on the other hand, is the total cost of your credit card expressed as an annual rate. This cost will include the actual Interest rate mentioned above plus a variety of fees and charges as follows:

  • Loan processing and document preparation fees
  • Application fees
  • Any legal or attorney charges
  • Insurance on credit or mortgage insurance charges
  • Any applicable taxing component

The 0% APR Mystery

There are many credit card offers that boast 0% APR which is probably true to start with. However, what they do not tell you upfront is how long this 0% rate is valid. Usually, the 0% rate is valid for a particular period and after that a very high APR rate may be applicable. Hence you may go for such cards ONLY if you are in a position to close off your credit card debt within the zero percent APR validity period. This may be a good option for balance transfers from other cards as long as you are very prompt on paying back.

Low Iinterest rates option is the alternative to 0% APR when you know that you are going to have manageable credits from month to month and want to benefit from the long term point of view. However, this doesn’t help you with huge balance transfers.

If you have huge credit card outstanding, then a good strategy would be to get started with the 0% APR and then switch to a low interest rate card within a year or so.

APR vs EAR

EAR or Effective Annual Rate or Effective APR is the compounded interest rate applied per month or quarter (as per the rule) where as APR is the annual simple interest rate.

Before committing yourself to any credit card or loan, ask your banker or credit company for more details on how the interest rate is calculated. You must also inquire about the 0% validity period if any and about hidden charges and fees.

How much Money do I need to Retire?

Retirement planning is a real headache for even the most proficient financial adviser or retirement planning professional simply because of the uncertainties involved in life. First of all nobody really knows how long he or she will live and how many defendants he or she might have at various points of time. On top of that, there are varying factors such as economic recession, critical illnesses, unprecedented calamities etc that can spoil all your calculations.

However, there are ways to calculate how much money you will need (roughly) under normal circumstances in order to retire gracefully and lead a peaceful life thereafter. All these calculations are always based on optimistic known factors and under predefined conditions, though. Also, the earlier you retire the more error prone your retirement calculation will be, because you have more years to live than you already did and the sample figures can go wrong.

Money needed to retire

The main assumption parameters for any retirement planning are the inflation rate, return on your current investments and average life expectancy

For example, in the US, the average life expectancy is around 78 years but most retirement calculations will assume a safer value of 85 years so that you don’t end up outliving the money. Similarly the inflation rate is typically capped at 3% for most calculation purposes in the US though other countries might have much higher inflation rates.

Since the amount required post retirement is a huge figure, you have to plan for your retirement from the day you get your first job

Calculation

First you have to figure out how much you will spend. This is not an easy thing to do but you can still calculate it based on where it stands today. Post retirement, mostly you will end up spending a lot less than you spend today because usually expenses such as gas, work clothes, lunches out etc. On the other hand your health care expenses or cable TV expenses might go up. Based on your priorities, you may arrive at a monthly expense figure for your retirement life. This may be up to 20 or 25% less than your current monthly expenses. Let us call this figure ‘x’. You have to calculate the annualized (multiply by 12) number to arrive at an annual retirement budget or 12x.

Next you have to figure out how much more will you need per month apart from your social security and annuities to meet the ‘x’ mentioned above. For example, if your retirement benefits per month amounts to y, you still need (x – y) per month which you can call the shortfall per month.

The retirement planning is all about covering for that shortfall annualized and multiplied by the number of years after your retirement and till you die.

i.e. 12 * (x – y) * your remaining number of years. Let us call this value ‘z’.

Basically, you have to find a way to cover for this shortfall of ‘z’ using your 401-k plans, interest on your savings account or any other income that you might have and saved up. This is exactly the money needed to retire.

Consuming your retirement money

Researches show that if you are retiring at normal retirement age group (i.e 60 to 65), you can withdraw up to 4% of your retirement money per year parked in various accounts. For example, if you have retired with one million dollars, you can withdraw $40,000 in your first year post retirement. However, if you are retiring at a ‘young’ age of 45 or 50, you cannot afford to withdraw more than 3% per annum to meet your post retirement life. These figures are based on research data for the past several decades.

Please note that the calculation will hugely vary for those countries that have very high inflation rates. Basically in that case, the returns on investment is way below the skyrocketing living expenses and hence take the help from a financial adviser in your area to plan your retirement life.