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How Does Having Bad Credit Affect You?

Most people don’t realize that having a poor credit score will cost them hundreds or even thousands of dollars per month.  The reason they aren’t aware is because most people don’t run the numbers.  If they did, they’d be surprised! Many people with bad credit when purchasing a car or home don’t realize that if […]

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Like Fixing Stuff? Then Consider a Career in Maintenance

January 26, 2012 | Education | No Comments

If you like to fix and build things, work with your hands, don’t mind getting dirty, like technology and don’t want to sit at a desk, you should  seriously consider a career in maintenance.

There are many different types of maintenance workers, which include electrical, mechanical, aircraft, avionics, helicopter and building maintenance.

Many maintenance technicians work in manufacturing plants, such as automotive, aviation, food and medical plants to repair, install and maintain equipment. The majority of their time is spent on working to keep equipment up and running because it’s very expensive for plants to have extended amounts of downtime.

Due to rapid improvements in technology, machines are becoming more complicated so it’s important that maintenance workers are computer and electronic savvy.

If you are considering a career in maintenance there are basically two ways to obtain maintenance training. The first is to attend a community college offering  maintenance training that consist of hands on training, classroom instructions and text book exercises.

The second is to enter an apprenticeship program where you work with an experienced maintenance technician who will train you to complete specific tasks while you take classes at nights or weekends to obtain your certificate or license. Apprenticeship programs are usually offered by companies who will have a  joint program with local unions or community colleges.

Requirements to enter an apprenticeship program are less stringent than community colleges, however, more companies are only accepting individuals who have a  high school degree. They also prefer high school students who have taken some vocational classes like blue print reading, mechanical drawing, computer  programming, wood working, auto repair, etc.

Training in aircraft maintenance is the most stringent because you will have to pass exams to become certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), you must be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma or equivalent, be fluent in reading and speaking English and have the required basic technical  skills. To become a certified aircraft mechanic the FAA requires students to complete a minimum of 1, 900 class hours.

To become a maintenance electricians most states and local governments require a license, however, requirements vary by state/local area. Electricians are required to pass an exam testing their knowledge of electrical theory, local/state electric and building codes and the National Electrical Code.

Salaries for maintenance technicians depend on industry, geography and job classification. Entry level maintenance workers can expect make from $14 to over $20 per hour plus benefits. Workers with over 5 years experience can earn over $30 per hour.

Maintenance workers tend to be older men who will start to retire in abundance over the next few years which will result in a shortage of workers to fill these  positions. Younger workers want to work in cleaner environments and jobs that are less physically demanding. Additionally, younger individuals tend to shy  away from technical careers which involves math and science.

Debt Management May Help Alleviate Debt-Related Depression

January 20, 2012 | Debt | Guest Post | 3 Comments

According to a survey conducted by a non-profit financial crisis center, nearly fifty percent of the people surveyed in debt also experienced or exhibited symptoms of depression. Depression is usually classified as experiencing feelings of inadequacy, hopelessness and other negative behaviors and emotions. The survey also found that nine out of ten participants reported significant feelings of debt-related stress.

Depression can create a feeling of hopelessness and an inability to take on financial problems which leads to a vicious cycle of rising debt and deeper depression. Depression can cause some individuals to become emotionally paralyzed which then leads them to be incapable of developing or following a plan of action to rectify their finances. If this is you, it is highly recommended that you seek help from a debt relief counselor familiar with depression related to debt or see a professional therapist.

However, for many people, they have not yet reached that critical point and are still fully capable of learning new debt management skills. And, for many individuals the depression they are experiencing is simply a phase due to their extraneous debt. As the debt is corrected, the depression lifts. However, all too often, for some, depression leads to suicidal tendencies or attempts. It is essential that anyone experiencing feelings to hurt themselves, the ones they love or other people to seek help as soon as possible. Debt is not worth your life.

Financial stress can feel insurmountable at times whether you have unexpectedly lost your job, stuck in a cycle of late payments or have rising credit card debt. Debt can be detrimental to all areas of your life, but with the right debt management skills and tools, you can get out from under the burden of debt once and for all.

If you are suffering from depression related to debt, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to seek outside help through a debt counselor. Many times, just taking the minimal action of asking for help can make you feel like you are regaining control of your finances and it can begin to ease your depression. Finding help and developing an action plan can help lift those feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy.

Depression can trick your mind into thinking that there is no way out or your debts are so out of control that you will never find a remedy. The important thing to remember is that it is just the depression talking and outside help, especially those experienced in dealing with debt-related depression can help you see what your mind refuses to acknowledge. There are many debt management skills they can teach you that will not only alleviate your current situation, but will help you learn how to avoid ending up in the same place all over again.

Debt should not be a cause of depression, but it is extremely common for those in debt to experience symptoms. Seek help as soon as you find yourself in debt and learn how you can turn your finances around.

HARP Now Helping More Borrowers Refinance their Homes

January 13, 2012 | Mortgage Loans | No Comments

If you are looking to refinance your home but can’t because you are underwater (you owe more than your house is worth), you may be able to now refinance via changes made to the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) announced last October.  

The changes where made by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with input from lenders, mortgage insurers and other industry participants.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac claims they have helped about 9 million families refinance into a lower cost mortgage or a more sustainable mortgage product. About 10% of those helped was via HARP, which allows borrowers to owe more than their home is worth in order to take advantage of low interest rates and other refinancing benefits.

HARP will continue to be available to borrowers with loans sold to the Enterprises on or before May 31, 2009 with current loan-t0-value (LTV) ratios above 80 percent.

The new program enhancements address several other key aspects of HARP including:

  • Eliminating certain risk-based fees for borrowers who refinance into shorter-term mortgages and lowering fees for other borrowers;
  • Removing the current 125 percent LTV ceiling for fixed-rate mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac;
  • Waiving certain representations and warranties that lenders commit to in making loans owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac;
  • Eliminating the need for a new property appraisal where there is a reliable AVM (automated valuation model) estimate provided by the Enterprises; and
  • Extending the end date for HARP until Dec.

 

A very important feature of these changes is the encouragement, via elimination of certain risk-based fees, for borrowers to use HARP to refinance into shorter-term mortgages.  Additionally, borrowers who owe more on their home than its worth will be able to reduce the loan balance quicker if they take advantage of today’s low interest rates by shortening the term of their mortgage.

For more information view this PDF released by FHFA.gov.

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!)

How to Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft

December 30, 2011 | Education | No Comments

Identity theft can be frightening and cause numerous problems.  It can ruin your credit; where it’s up to you to prove there is a problem and to fix the problem.   After discovering there is problem, you have to contact the credit companies and prove to them that you didn’t create the charges.  

Prevention of identity theft is the best way to prevent identity theft.  To do this you must protect yourself so your sensitive information isn’t easily accessible.  Do not leave credit card statements, bank account number or other types of sensitive information laying around for people to see.  Make it a habit to shred document before throwing them away.  Sensitive information that you need to keep needs to be locked away.

Important documents with personal and sensitive information are often sent via the mail which is vulnerable to theft.  To reduce using mail, have your statements only accessible online via secured websites and pay your bills online. You can also use services such as IdentityHawk for identity theft protection.

Below is a list of additional things you can do to prevent identity theft protection.

  • Pay your bills online.  This decreases the chance that paper bills or statements end up where others can easily find them.
  • Look over all your statements carefully.
  • Create secure passwords and guard them well.
  • Protect your social security number.
  • Check through all mail – even mail that seems like junk mail.  It could be from an account opened by someone else.
  • Decrease the amount of unsolicited credit card offers that come in the mail by visiting optoutprescreen.com and contacting the Direct Marketing Association to remove your name from mailing lists.  Shred the solicitations you do receive before throwing them out.
  • If possible, use a post office box, and do not put bill payments and checks in an unlocked mailbox.  
  • Have someone you trust pick up your mail when you are away.
  • Do not give out your credit card number.
  • Shred important documents containing your personal information.

 

If you are a victim of identity theft, here are several ways to deal with it:

  • Cancel any accounts that you think have been compromised.  This includes checking accounts.
  • Notify the credit reporting bureaus.  You only have to contact one, and they will contact the rest.
  • Make a report to the police.
  • Notify the post office.
  • Contact the Federal Trade Commission.
  • Contact the Social Security Administration.
  • Make sure all of your accounts have passwords.
  • Place an alert on your credit report – an extended one is best, as it last for 7 years.
  • Keep good records.

 

“The Affiliate’s Creed”-Shoemoney ASW Contest Entry Post

December 21, 2011 | Affiliate Marketing | 2 Comments

The Affiliate’s Creed

“This is my computer. There are many like it but this one is mine. My computer is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I master my life. Without me, my computer is useless. Without my computer I am useless. I must make my computer true. I must use my computer better than any other affiliate who is trying to make more money than me. I must out-do them before they out-do me. I will, before God I swear this creed: my computer and I are money-makers in the affiliate world, we are the masters of our offers, we are the creators of wealth. So be it, until there is no better affiliate, but me! Amen.

I hope you enjoyed the video above.  It’s the launch of my official entry into the  Shoemoney Affiliate Summit West Contest. I thought the video would be very amusing.  The idea came to me after I read about Shoemoney’s ASW contest.  I quickly began to work on it and although it’s not Hollywood studio material, I’m happy with the outcome.  The original video clip is  “The Rifleman’s Creed” from the movie “Full Metal Jacket”.

A Little about Me

My name is Patrick; I’m a husband, a father and an affiliate marketer.  I’ve been trying to make significant money online for a few years with some successes and too many failures to count.  I’ve been an affiliate marketer who has always been inspired by reading blog’s such as Shoemoney, John Chow and Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income.   I’ve definitely profited from the invaluable information provided by these blogs.

I’ve had many frustrations which you can read about here and had a home run or two, you can read here.  However, I’ve pretty much struggled over the years to maintain consistency and to take my business to the next level.

My Main Reasons for Wanting to Attend Affiliate Summit West

Unfortunately, making money in affiliate marketing has never been consistent for me and I realize I have a lot more to learn.  Additionally, I have found networking with people within the affiliate marketing industry very challenging at times.  Attending Affiliate Summit West would help with these limitations, especially having the opportunity to network with the legendary, Jeremy Schoemaker!

I look forward to seeing who the winner of the ASW Shoemoney contest is and sincerely hope it’s me! 😉

I would love to hear some feedback below about the video! :-)  

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Free Online Bookkeeping Software for Small Businesses

November 18, 2011 | Videos | No Comments

If you have a small business and want bookkeeping software to automate your accounting activities, you should consider an online service at Outright.com. With Outright there is not need to have a pile of paper laying around your office because everything will be digitally in one location online where you can access it at anytime, anywhere in the world as long as you have Internet access.  

Outright will help you organize your credit cards, bank, eBay, PayPal Etsy and ecommerce accounts in one single place.  You can also use Outright to track your sales, expenses and see exactly how your business is performing.  At tax time you will be prepared to quickly and easily complete your taxes with detailed reports using this service.  

There is no software to setup because everything is done online. You can import data from your existing accounts into Outright.   The service offers a free account that never expires and a paid account that is $9.95 per month.

See video below of Outright Product Review