Money is tight and times are hard for lots of Americans. Many are out of work, others have had their hours cut back, some are on restricted incomes or budgets. The great stock market boom of just a few years ago, under the Bush Administration (can you imagine that it was going quite well under him for a good long time of his 8 years). People seemed much better off then. They had lots of money to spend or so it seemed. Many had money in stocks and bonds, and many were earning more and more in dividends almost daily at skyrocketing rates. They thought they were feasting on the fattened cow and they spent like there was no tomorrow. They bought extravagant homes, gas guzzling SUV's, and just about everything on which they could spend money and adorned themselves with just about every bauble they could find. At the time, I played it very conservatively, I bought a brand new Toyota in 2005 for cash (still have it) to replace my then 16 year old Mazda 323 which we also had bought for cash. Both were economy cars and we also had a 1996 Ford Taurus that was bought for cash between the Mazda and Toyota - nothing fancy but we truly need 2 cars. I paid my bills on time (all of them), paid off my mortgage (it has been paid off in full 2 years this December), lived fairly modestly yet had a good time on mostly inexpensive vacations, and managed to save enough money between 2005 and 2010 to buy another new car for cash. Granted it was only a Hyundai Elantra Touring but it replaced out aging 1996 Ford Taurus and as I said we paid cash (except for a $500 deposit on my credit card but that too was paid up promptly).
Since the Hyundai was paid for in cash, it depleted our bank accounts once again and we have very little in them right now. The thing is this time around I will not have my job long enough to replenish them over the next 5 years or so since I face mandatory retirement within 2 years and will probably retire next year. Still though - the accounts are growing slowly but surely even though we keep paying our expenses and paying them in a timely manner each month. While the mortgage is out of the way, we still have college tuition and books for my son, higher auto insuranc, sky high heating oil prices, all the other regular expenses and I just paid off quite a bit of co-payments and deductibles for a medical issue. I am not complaining though because for the first time in a very long time I am considered to be making much more money than the average American; I am not gloating either. That was not true 15 years ago, then my salary was considered substandard compared to the private sector and even to others in my general line of work in civil service. Ten years ago it was pretty much the same but had improved some. A few years after that I was considered fairly well off. Others at my job thought I was nuts because I was not putting a lot of money in my Thrift Savings Plan at work, in fact for the great majority of my career I did not put any money into it or into additional voluntary retirement contributions (something other than but slightly similar to the TSP). Many of my coworkers had put in the maximum they could contribute. I being under the old civil service retirement plan could put in up to a certain percentage to the TSP. Others in the newer federal retirement plan could put in a higher amount and have a certain percentage matched by the government and they put in as much as they could. Who could blame them - it seemed like easy money. They raved about it, they raved about the option of placing their money into stocks in the TSP. Then the bottom started to fall out and they moaned and groaned. When it got worse there was gnashing of teeth. Then they pissed and whined as their funds in the TSP dwindled by tens of thousands in some instances. Me, I put in some money, but when others had well over a hundred or even two hundred thousand dollars invested, I had about 35K. Right now, I still have almost all of that plus a good deal more but still nowhere near 100K. I kept the great majority of mine in the fund made up of government securities - I played it safe with most of what I had deposited. I also had some in the higher risk stock option and have lost maybe a couple thousand dollars while others lost tens of thousands.
I am still playing it fairly safe. Playing it safe has been good for me because even though I do not have anywhere as much money put away for retirement as I should have, I have no mortgage. I think I may regret it though, that playing it safe, when and if the federal government reduces my future pension and I believe that is coming the way we are going. What I will not regret is having bought a way too expensive home on fantasy money that I never saw in my hands that was only in volatile stock accounts, nor will I regret losing tens of thousands of that same money when the markets dive bombed, nor will I regret having bought a gas guzzling monster that I could not fill with gas and could not sell when gasoline prices went through the roof as they are doing again. Regular is $3.03 to $3.21 up my way, it was $2.78 about a month or month and a half ago. Will the media bash Bush, err I mean Obama for it like they did Bush? Heck no. Nope I played it safe and was fiscally conservative - maybe too much so - who knows. But the mortgage is paid off and right now I have a job and an excellent salary (well for most of the country and even a pretty good one for the NYC metro area) and I m not complaining although I sometimes wonder how else I can earn some spare ka-ching since my financial future in retirement looks shaky at best unless we somehow actual have an economic recovery.
For all that playing it conservatively, I am left almost totally dependent on my current salary and that of my wife to make it. If we get hit with a major repair on my home we will have to take a loan. I am also depending on the hope my pension will be there for me throughout my retirement years once I pull the plug (next year sometime). So, when seemingly safe money making opportunities come along they are fairly tempting. I don't mean getting a second job. I do not have the time for a second job, at least not one outside my home, not with my current job and my usual 2 1/2 to 3 hours daily commute time. What I do mean are offers to make money for doing something I like and being able to do it at home. Four times now, within the past couple or few weeks, I have been offered the chance to earn money by way of y blog. These have all been made by different entities or people, all seemingly independent of one another. One person offered my $35 outright just to link to his website that is a gun auction/sales site. I declined the offer but linked to not only his gun auction site but also to his webpage and blog and I did it gratis. Why, who knows! Now thirty five bucks may not seem like much to someone making a decent living but I would bet many others who are hurting would have jumped on it. Maybe I should taken it and put it in my bank account but I did not.
I was also offered at least two other money making opportunities of unspecified amounts should I link to commercial sites (by way of placing their advertisements on my blog) that dealt with firearms and outdoor sports products (like hunting & fishing gear). I again declined but this time, because they were seeking to place actual advertisements on my site, I did not place any links or ads for them on my blog site. Yet another person/entity contacted me offering me money to write pieces for another blog type site. Again, I declined each offer. All were tempting and maybe, if I got and took enough such offers, I could start making a tidy little sum on the side but I suppose I already pay Uncle Sam and NY State enough income taxes and don't need to add to that.
Of course, I have a lot of links on the right hand side of my blog. Most are to other bloggers, some of which I read and enjoy with great interest on a regular basis as in almost daily, some I read weekly, others of which I enjoy but only read as few times as once or twice monthly, and others I almost never read because I cannot stand them for one reason or another. Those last ones, I just mentioned, I link to because they blog about some common interest between the other bloggers, myself and my readers like firearms. I figure they have the same interests so in the event my readers might find them more interesting than do I, I link to them. I figure, even if we do not find one another interesting or all that much to our liking, we can still support one another as bloggers who are freedom lovers, or firearms enthusiasts, or patriotic Americans. I figure supporting one another with links to be a good thing for all of us with like interests. Too bad most others do not seem to think that way, just look at how many people on my blog-roll list link back to me - a paltry amount compared to all those to whom I link, but thems is the breaks.
As for other links on the right side of my blog, some are reference types such as those to news agencies, field manuals, libraries, or historical sites. Others are links for blogs and websites geared toward noncommercial but specific interests such as firearms (the great majority), reptiles & amphibians, hiking, fishing, hunting and so on. These would include links to firearms forums, herpetological societies and so on. Yet other links, and there are a good number of them, are to commercial websites such as online firearms manufacturers, firearms dealers, shooting ranges, sporting good dealers, gun parts suppliers, and organizations which support gun rights. I have also blogged quite a lot about firearms related products, and also mentioned, with a fair amount of frequency, commercial businesses in my blogs. I do not and have never sought out, solicited, accepted even one penny or any other type of recompense from any commercial entity in return for placing an ad or link on my site or for blogging about them.
So am I being foolish? Should I be seeking to make money by way of being paid to place links and or advertising on my blog or by my blogging or writing articles for others for pay? I don't know. I see plenty of other bloggers trying to bring in a few dollars here and there by placing a donations icons on their sites. They usually call them tip jars or something like that. I see that as little different than begging and I know for a fact some of them are quite well to do with decent jobs and incomes and I find that unappealing for myself. I do have a donations icon up right now but that is very different, that is for donations for soldiers' care packages. I don't think I ever have asked anyone to donate funds to me to be used for me. I hope I never have to resort to that. I see other bloggers, many of them, have also taken to placing commercial ads on their sites and some talk about receiving money for testing products or blogging about them. I wonder, am I missing out on something good? Should I be taking advantage of the fact that people have been seeking me out and offering money or is it all not worth it? It would be well worth it to me if I could earn enough in a year to buy a quality rifle or three but somehow I doubt the income would be there.
If you have any first hand info on this, I would like to get some feedback from you to find out if I have been missing out on he cash cow or just shouldn't even waste my time thinking about it because it is not as good as it seems it could be.
Flying Lesson #117 - Stage Check I Part II
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