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My Ramblings Articles

My Short Term Stock Trades of Synacor (SYNC)

June 3, 2012 | Investing | My Ramblings | No Comments

For the last several months I’ve been thinking about getting back in the stock market.  However, I soon remember why I decided to exit the stock market and to never re-enter.  See “5 Reasons Why I Lost Over $300,000 in the Stock Market” to find out why.  However, lately I’ve been having the bug because the stock market has made people money over the last several months.

Looking back, at around October / November 2011, is when I should have entered the market again when everyone was fleeing and financial world looked like it was coming to an end.  There were so many bargains out there and I could have made a nice profit. Of course hindsight is always 20/20.  No one knew what would happen.  We could have entered a really bad long-term depression!

This time when I enter the market it will be short term.  No more buying stocks and holding them long term.  If I buy a stock and it goes up quickly, sell and grab my profits and don’t look back.  This time I won’t be greedy.  On the flip side, if a stock drops over a certain percentage, I’ll quickly sell it and cut my loss. No more holding a dog and hoping things will improve one day.  Let’s face it, the stock market is a gamble.  But it can be a calculated gamble if you use common sense and are lucky enough to get a little luck.

So I started looking around and stumbled on a stock that was hot, that I believe I could trade short term and make a little money.

The National Inflation Association  has been touting this one stock, Synacor (SYNC) on their site and news letter.  “Synacor, Inc. provides authentication and aggregation solutions for delivery of online content and services in the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands.”  You can read more about Synacor here.

I’m not one to be swayed by hype, but I started watching the stock and soon realized that the stock was having some really big daily movements with nice volume.  In some days it would be up or down 10-15%.  So I decided to ride the wave to see if I could make a little money.  I soon realized that if the stock had a nice jump over a few days, then it was a good time to sell and buy back when the profit takers came in.  See stock chart below.

The first time I purchased I make the mistake of buying after a nice run-up.  I watched it climb from about $9 to over $13 and jumped in at the top.  I purchased 200 shares at $12.795 and the next day the profit takers came in and it dropped.  I sold it $11.60 and hoped it dropped some more so I could jump back it.  Six days later I purchased 250 shares at $9.97 and watched it climb to over $14, placed a stop loss at $13.5 and sold it at $13.41.  The stock is now at $11.95.  I’m hoping it falls a little more and I’ll jump back in.  I strongly believe there is more upside potential to this stock and plan to ride the wave.

So far I’ve profited $592.86, with my 2 trades.  We shall see what happens over the next few weeks as I research other companies to trade short term.  I’ll be keeping my eye on SYNC to determine when to jump in and out to make a little money!

My New 4G Android-Powered LG Esteem with MetroPCS

January 7, 2012 | My Ramblings | Services | Videos | 10 Comments

My wife and I recently upgraded our cell phones.  For about 7.5 years my wife and I had Sprint paying about $62/month total.  Over the years I looked into upgrading to a smartphone but just couldn’t justify going from $62/month to at least $130/month for 2 phones.  I figured we’d just wait until prices dropped a bit.  Additionally, if I ever switched to a smartphone I wanted everything to be unlimited.  I didn’t want to monitor my data, minutes and text messaging fearing additional charges.

After much research I found the best deal with MetroPCS.  For $80/month total (includes tax and fees), my wife and I get unlimited everything (minutes, data and text).  However, I got a smartphone, the LG Esteem and my wife got a regular phone, the LG Beacon.  My plan is $50/month and my wife’s plan is $40/month, however, since we are on a family plan, we each get a $5 discount which drops the price to $80/month.  The LG Esteem costs $249 after a $100 rebate and the LG Beacon costs $39 after a $30 rebate.

The Phone

I must admit that I’m extremely satisfied with the LG Esteem.  I absolutely love the phone and it has exceeded my expectations.  The screen is big at 4.3”, crisp and bright.  If you are looking for a small phone, this phone isn’t it.  I considered a smaller phone, but couldn’t resist the screen size.

The menus are well thought out and extremely easy to navigate.  I like the GPS navigation which is big improvement to our old Garmin GPS.  Voice recognition used in various software and features such as text messaging is very good.  The camera takes very good pictures and video quality is excellent.

The LG Esteem features 4G LTE connectivity, Android Platform 2.3 Ginerbread, 4.3” touch screen with damage resistant Gorilla Glass, 1.3 MP front-facing camera, 5 MP camera with 720p HD Video, HDMI Output and Dolby Audio.

The one disadvantage to the LG Esteem is battery life isn’t that great.  If you use the phone a lot you may have to recharge after about 5 to 7 hours.  If or when I have to change the battery I may consider purchasing an extended battery, however, it will make the phone bulkier.

Service

Fortunately, 4G service is available in my city so streaming video is flawless and browsing the web is fast.  MetroPCS 4G is only available in 14 cities which include Atlanta, Boston, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Detroit, North Florida, Central Florida, South Florida, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, LA/Bakersfield, New York, Philadelphia, Sacramento and San Francisco.  If you don’t live in one of these cities or travel a lot, getting 4G service will be an issue, however, I’m certain over time additional cities will be added.

MetroPCS claims their phone service covers 90% of the U.S.  We recently drove from Atlanta to Chicago and never witnessed any loss of signal or dropped call.  Sound quality was always good anytime we made a phone call.  Although there was no 4G service outside Atlanta checking email and sending text messages was never slow.

Conclusion

So far I’m very happy with the LG Esteem and with MetroPCS’s service.  For $45/month, I get unlimited minutes, text, data, picture messaging, international text messaging, GPS navigation, 4G (if available) and much more.  You sure can’t beat the price.  The larger carriers (AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless and Sprint) charges much more for these services but have better 3G/4G coverage than MetroPCS.   However to me, the savings more than offset this fact.

The downside to the LG Esteem is battery life and the availability of 4G in limited markets.  However, if you are fortunate to live in a city where 4G is offered and don’t travel too much, this is a non-issue.  If 4G isn’t available, you can always connect to Wi-Fi to get similar 4G speeds.

Overall, I highly recommend MetroPCS and the LG Esteem.  You won’t be disappointed.

One last thing, overall, my wife is very pleased with the LG Beacon and her service as well.  

Update (Added 2-5-2012):  Due to some of the comments below about MetroPCS’s 4G Service, I made the quick video below  highlighting the 4G Service in the Atlanta area.  (Sorry about the audio!)

My Lending Club Account Performance Update 6

November 9, 2011 | Investing | My Ramblings | 1 Comment

How time flies.  Here is my number 6 update of my Lending Club Account Performance.  The last update was on May 13, 2011 about 6 months ago.

It’s amazing that it’s been over 2 years since I opened my account with Lending Club.  It feels like only a year.  

Since opening my account with Lending Club in August of 2009 my account has profited $7,639.23 in interest, however, about $1,000 of this is bonus paid to open the account and to add more funds.   With charge-offs I’ve actually profited $6,967.62.  The net annualized return is stated as 7.37%, but its actually 6%+ with the charge-offs.  Regardless, this more than beats CDs, with most paying less than 1%. 

I’ve invested a total $50,000.  I initially opened the account with $10,000, and then added another $20,000 because Lending Club was paying a 1% bonus to add the additional funds.  A few months later I added another $20,000 because Lending Club offered a 2% bonus.  (Note: Lending Club is currently offering a 2% Cash Bonus on your initial investment.)

Within the last 6 months an additional $429 has been charged off.  Currently, there is $1,065 late ($310 late 16-30 days, $755 late 31-125 days) and $40 in default, so some of this money will eventually be charged off as well.  This loss is a part of the game of lending money directly to individuals via unsecured loans.  Unfortunately, some people will default; however, the interest from paying borrowers “should” cover the losses.

Below is a screen-shot of my account as of 11/9/11.

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If you are interested in investing in Lending Club now is a great time because they are offering a 2% Cash Bonus on your initial investments.  Good luck!

Make Money Online With Affiliate Marketing

October 10, 2011 | Affiliate Marketing | My Ramblings | 2 Comments

The top 4 things I absolutely love about making money online are:

  1. You can automate your business.  There is no need to man it.  It’s not like a brick-and-mortar business where you have to be there 8 hours per day.  Your website is your employee and does all the work.  You can literally make money while you sleep.
  2.  You can be mobile.  You can live and travel anywhere in the world as long as you have an Internet connection.  I’ve been on vacation in Jamaica where I conducted business via the Internet.
  3.  You can try things fairly quickly and inexpensively.  If you have an idea, its extremely cheap and easy to develop a website and then pay a small amount of money to drive traffic to it to determine if you can convert visitors into making you money.
  4. You can sell and market products/services you don’t own via drop shipping and affiliate marketing.  There is no need to buy inventory, find space to store it and the pray you can sell it!.

One of the fastest ways to make money online is affiliate marketing. Affiliate Marketing is promoting products or services that you don’t own for a commission.  You register with an Affiliate Company to get an account, which gives you access to hyper-links (via text or banners) to products/services.  You take a link and place it out in the Internet world (via e-mail, website / landing page, paid advertising) to send traffic to your advertiser.  When an action is taken (sale or lead generated), you get paid a commission.  It’s that simple, but not easy because it involves a lot of trial-and-error! 

Some of the top affiliate companies include Commission Junction (CJ), AzoogleAds, ClickBank, PepperJam Network and Sharesale.  However, there are many other mid to smaller affiliate companies, but these are the ones I use the most.

As stated, the beauty with affiliate marketing is that you don’t have to own anything.  As a matter-a-fact, you don’t even have to own a website.  One of my most successful affiliate marketing campaign was marketing products via paid advertising where I sent traffic directly to the advertiser’s website.  However, now this strategy is rare.  Most advertisers want you to send traffic from another website and not directly from paid ads.

High traffic Blogs do very well with affiliate marketing because they don’t pay for any traffic.  All traffic is free, so they keep all earnings via affiliate links embedded in their blog posts. Blog owners with high traffic usually have loyal followers / readers who will purchase products/services that they recommend.  I know of blog owners making $30,000+ per month with this strategy!

Below is a screen shot from one of my affiliate accounts where I have grossed $33,304.00 YTD. Most of the traffic is from paid advertising, so there is cost in generating this amount.  However, the profit margin is pretty decent. 

The thing I like about generating 33,304.00 is that it’s pretty much on auto-pilot.  After setting up the campaigns,  I do very little but monitor and make adjustments.  Weeks may pass where I don’t even touch a campaign where I literally make money while I’m sleeping. 

However, please don’t be too impressed with the gross earnings because it’s nothing compared to some Internet Markets who make this amount in a month or less.  As a matter-a-fact I’m very disappointed that I haven’t done better.  As you can see from the screen shot, in Q1 I generated $14,738.76 but in Q2 it dropped to $10,148.29 and dropped again to $8,416.95 in Q3, which was very disappointing!

If you are interested in learning more about affiliate marketing, there a many blogs ran by Affiliate Marketers with articles on how they make money via affiliate marketing.   There are also many people selling training programs on affiliate marketing that can get you up to speed quickly.  However, if you are diligent, you can find most of the information for free on the Internet.  Just Google “Affiliate Marketing” and you’ll be presented with an abundance of free information.  This is another thing I absolutely love about the Internet.   There is so much free information on the Internet that, if you are smart and highly motivated, you can exploit to make money!

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Getting Back in Shape with P90X

October 5, 2011 | Healthcare | My Ramblings | 5 Comments

Last summer (2010), I weighed 210 lbs. and hated it. After being ill, losing weight, given medication and ordered not to exercise (except light cardio) I was at my heaviest.  So last summer I decided to get in shape and lose weight.  I had a goal to get down to 185 lbs. in 3 months but failed miserably.  At the end of 3 months I weighed pretty much the same because I didn’t exercise consistently and didn’t stick to a diet.

A few months ago I had lunch with an old colleague and was amazed at how much weight he lost.  He looked great after losing 50 lbs.  He told me purchased an exercise / diet program named P90X.   P90X is a 90 days total-body exercise program on DVDs that you follow at home to whip you back in shape.  All you need are some weights or resistance bands, pull-up bar that can attach to a door way and a Yoga mat.

A few weeks later I read Pat Flynn’s Blog, Smart Passive Income, and he too got back in shape after using P90X.  I was impressed and convinced that P90X would be a good program to help get me back in shape. I purchased P90X with a pull up bar and eagerly awaited arrival to get started. Update: Beach Body has recently released P90X2.

The Beginning of P90X

The first 2 weeks of P90X was brutal.  After each exercise I was absolutely exhausted and would remain exhausted for the rest of the day.  I felt as if I ran a marathon.  The cardio exercises I couldn’t keep up with.  I’d have to pause the DVD and lay down for a few minutes to get my heart rate down.  I was definitely out of shape.  However, after 2 weeks I was able to keep up without feeling completed exhausted for the rest of the day.  The most difficult parts of the resistance training are the pull-ups and the abs exercises which I still struggle with.

Five Weeks Later

Five weeks later after working out 6 days per week for 1 to 1-1/4 hours and changing my diet I saw little improvement.  P90X included a book on how to diet, but I didn’t follow it.  I basically ate low fat – healthy meals, reduced my portions, stop drinking soda and artificial fruit juices, drank more water, stopped snacking, ate more fruits and vegetables and stopped eating after 9 PM.  I knew that most likely the reason I saw no reduction in weight was because I put on muscle which offset the fat I was losing.  Also, I felt if I stuck to a really strict diet I would have lost weight.

However, I still grew frustrated that the results weren’t coming quickly.  I called my old colleague who lost 50 lbs. and he told me the same thing happed to him.  The first few weeks he too didn’t lose much weight, which made me feel a little better.  I also expressed to him that I absolutely hated Yoga.  A part of the P90X program is Yoga once or twice per week which I didn’t like.  It was too long and I didn’t like getting up and down from the floor and trying to get into different award positions.  My old colleague told me he too felt the same way and skipped Yoga and substituted it with the cardio exercises.  I agreed that was a great idea and from then on substituted Yoga for the cardio exercises.

90 Days Later

Soon after 5 weeks my weight started dropping.  It seems as if for weeks I wouldn’t lose any weight then over a few days I’d drop a few pounds.  I learned losing weight isn’t a linear process.  As I began to lose weight I grew more excited.  Most of my weight was in my stomach and could see and feel my stomach getting smaller.

My goal was to lose 23 lbs., going from 208 lbs. to 185 lbs in 13 weeks.  I wanted to look trim and fit and not necessarily put on a lot of muscle which I knew I wouldn’t maintain.

The Results so Far

After 13 weeks of P90X, which is the length of the program I am now 192 lbs.  I’ve lost 16 lbs. and my waist has shrunk 3 inches which is a huge difference.  My pants and shorts that were too tight or couldn’t fit, I can now wear.  I’m currently continuing the P90X for another 13 weeks with the goal of hitting 185 lbs.  After, I still plan on continuing P90X but I will mix-it up with weight-training at the gym, playing racquetball and swimming.

Below are my before and after pictures:

Before and After Front

 

Before and After Rear

 

Before and After Side

 

  My Equipment for P90X


Lessons Learned

The things I’ve learned thus far are as follows:

  • Working out at home is far more convenient than working out at the gym.
  • Following an exercise program is great because you don’t have to wonder what to do next.
  • Losing weight isn’t a linear.
  • Losing weight is very hard work.
  • Getting back into shape is all about consistency.

 

If you are ready to get going get the P90X and pull up bar at Amazon.com.  Beach Body recently launched the P90X2 that I may try out soon!

Make Millions Selling eBooks on ClickBank

August 15, 2011 | Cool Stuff | My Ramblings | 1 Comment

If you are an expert on a topic or even have a passion for a certain topic that you think people would love to learn, then write and sell an eBook to make money.  There are many people doing this and making decent money with it.  Some people hit it out the park by making a significant about of money.

People sell eBooks about the most mundane things such as “Worm Farming” to “How to Pick up Women” and believe it or not, people buy these products.  The great thing about an eBook is that there is little to no overhead.  No need to pay a printer to make hard copies or a distributor to distribute your books.  eBooks can be purchased and downloaded to your computer within seconds.  No need to find an agent or publisher.  You can do it all yourself!

Take for example Jacob Hiller who wrote an eBook called “The Jump Manual” which is a very simple guide on how to increase your vertical jump mostly for volleyball and basket ball players.

Mr. Hiller has sold over $1 million worth of this book and has been featured in Sports Illustrated, ESPN and Men’s Health.

Mr. Hiller’s success really started out by luck.  He first posted a video on YouTube on giving tips on how to jump higher.  The video responded well to viewers and as a result Mr. Hiller created a website and then the eBook.

He initially gave the eBook away for free until he realized how well people liked it and started selling the eBook for $15 via PayPal.  He then placed the eBook on ClickBank, increased the price to $67 with an option for jump coaching services for an additional $9/month.  Currently, the eBook sells between 500 and 1,000 copies per month, grossing up to $75,000 per month. (FYI: ClickBank is an online retail for digital products which about 100,000 active affiliate marketers who help sell these products for commission.)

Below is a video of how Mr. Hiller got started with a very simple idea and made it into a million dollar business.  If you have an idea, you too can do it!

Making Money Online Sucks!

July 31, 2011 | My Ramblings | 8 Comments

Since I’ve been “trying” to make significant money online (starting seriously in 2008) I’ve had my fare share of failures!  However, I’ve been able to gross several hundred thousand dollars over the years with very little risk, which is what attracts me to making money online.  You can try “stuff” fairly inexpensively and fairly fast if you have the skills to develop and market websites which I still struggle with.  

Trying to make money online is hard work, but at times for me can be extremely frustrating.   The ups are great but the downs can be disappointing and annoying.

The Internet is extremely dynamic. The rules are constantly changing.  I have to deal with suppliers, affiliate companies, advertisers, web hosts, and customers to conduct business which is a dynamic event.  Things don’t stay the same.  Although business is conducted on the Internet, I still deal with people who are all looking out for their best interests. 

Over the years I’ve had numerous problems / failures that I’ve had to overcome, which include:

  • Spending hours on numerous sites (ecommerce, Blogs, affiliate campaigns, forums) that have failed miserably!
  • Sites from time-to-time being down and/or running extremely slow due to web host issues.  Many times paying to advertise the site, thus losing money!  Had to transfer 2 sites to new hosts because problem couldn’t be resolved.
  • Web hosting company disabling site without notification because of complaint about copyright material on the site.
  • Websites hacked with malware and into administrative account.
  • Suppliers constantly running out of products, thus having to refund thousands of dollars (lost sales).
  • Suppliers constantly adding, changing and deleting products which are difficult to keep up with.
  • Supplier offering 10% discount for months and then suddenly stopping resulting in significant reduction in earnings.
  • Fraudulent purchase on ecommerce site losing over $600 (not bad considering).
  • Replacing customer purchased product lost in the mail. (only happened once).
  • Customer complaints (defective products, product returns, products not shipped on time, wrong quantity shipped, etc.)
  • 2,000/day unique visitor site disappears from Google search and takes months to return fully after requesting re-inclusion.  Google search accounts for 80% of traffic and results in loss of a few thousand dollars.
  • Google disabling (1 temporary, 1 permanent) advertising accounts because of account was hacked and policy infringement (losing about $4,000).
  • Google dropping quality score of successful ad campaign to 1 thus permanently killing traffic and earnings.
  • Google decreasing page rank from 4 to 0, thus turning away advertisers.
  • Lawyer threatens lawsuit and wants to negotiate payment because of use of a copyrighted picture on site. (Never paid after claiming no profit/damage made from picture).
  • Affiliate company holding approximately $40,000 for an additional 3 months before paying. (Had to take $20,000 from personal savings to cover advertising costs).
  • Having affiliate/advertiser decrease payout by thousands of dollars claiming traffic sent was junk.
  • Having a successful $300-$400/day profitable campaign for several months and then one day receiving an email from affiliate company stating that same day is the last day the offer will be live and to kill all traffic to the site.
  • Having a successful campaign go from making $30/day profit to almost $100/day profit and then back to $30/day after several months.  Tried desperately to fix with no success.
  • There are many more to mention! And the problems will continue…..

 

Although there have been numerous problems/failures, I realize the path to ultimate success is being able to overcome problems/failures,  to keep going and to not let it get you down.  I realize it’s just a part of the game and don’t want success in my niches too easy because every Tom, Dick and Harry would be competing with me.   

At times when I’m disappointed that things aren’t going well, my wife kicks me in the butt and reminds me that I went from $0/month profit to $X,XXX/month profit and at times have reached $XX,XXX/month profit!  It’s great to have someone to remind you that the glass is half full!

So what failures have you had to overcome to become successful?  Would love to read your comments below!

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