Saving Money Archives

Get Rid of Cable and Pick Up Roku

roku or cableTired of paying for cable? Well consider ditching cable for Roku. Roku is a tiny little box that connects to your internet via wifi (or ethernet cable) and connects to you TV via HDMI  and allows you to stream things such as Hulu plus, Netflix, and Pandora. Additionally, if you buy the high end model ($99.99), there is even a USB slot so you can plug your media in directly to it.  Now of course you do have to pay for Hulu Plus ($7.99 a month) and Netflix ($7.99), but you are talking roughly $16 a month.

Roku also has the ability to link up with HBOgo, Facebook, and a host of other channels, but sadly does not appear to have an actual internet browser (my one complaint). I personally only plan on subscribing to Hulu Plus to have access to about 80% of any show I would ever want to watch anyhow. I am currently paying roughly $50 a month, so in a given year I should save $504 minus the cost of the unit plus the salvage value of the unit.

what is on roku

One of the things that stands out about Roku versus the iTv is Huluplus. Sadly even the newest iTV does not have the ability to access Huluplus.  I will keep you updated on my overall experience with Roku.

How Much Would You Pay for A Certain Skill

Learn PHPBeing that I am the web administrator of EpicFinances.com, I have found it very important to try to find ways of improving my websites through various web programming languages. I find myself quickly realizing that I want to learn PHP. I don’t just “kind of want to know PHP” either, I want to basically master it. I think to myself, how much would I be willing to pay to magically input PHP skills into me?  $1,000 dollars? $10,000 dollars? What types of opportunities could these PHP skills lead to? How lucrative would these skills be?

I ultimately have come to the conclusion, I would pay roughly $5,000 to have a very good understanding of PHP (via magical effortless learning). Of course this magical effortless training doesn’t exist, but it brings me to a point. I could probably learn PHP with books and videos (which are basically free), in probably 500 hours. That’s $10 an hour of after-tax money savings. Maybe I should view it this way, I am effectively going to get a $5,000 skill for the cost of 500 hours.

If I could master it, it would be well worth the time. I have always been strong with logical thinking, but never actually sat down to learn a language. Hopefully my skills and my website will continue to grow. A preview of something I wrote this evening.  It’s a good old fashion mortgage calculator.
  <?php
    $interestrate = .04 / 12;
    $mortgageamount = 150000;
    $numberofpayments = 360;
                    /* (Pr(1+r)^N) / ((1+r)^N -1)*/
    $paymentamount = (($mortgageamount * $interestrate) * (pow((1+$interestrate),$numberofpayments))) / ((pow((1+$interestrate),$numberofpayments)) – 1);  ?>
    <h1><?php echo “$” . round($paymentamount,2);?> </h1>
    <h1 style=”color:#C00″>
    <?php echo ” is your monthly payment on a mortgage of $” . $mortgageamount . ” at a rate of “. $interestrate*12 . ” ” . “over ” . $numberofpayments /12 . ” years.”; ?>

Result:
$716.12
is your monthly payment on a mortgage of $150000 at a rate of 0.04 over 30 years.

Sadly PHP might have to wait until after the CPA.

Cheap Vinyl Window ReplacementAs Whether you want to admit it or not, windows on a house are a commodity. As time goes on, you will “use up” your windows. The windows in my house are construction grade windows that were original to the house 24 years ago. The seals on the windows are still good, but they look terrible and are not very sound proof or energy efficient. So I started researching vinyl window replacement, and honestly it’s a pretty strange world.

There are a few ways to approach window replacement, but ultimately if you want to do it the cheapest, you are probably going to have to buy the windows yourself and install them yourself. The alternative to this of course is to call a professional company, and most likely they will send a sales representative (usually who works off commission) to come to talk with you on pricing. The situation feels entirely like a used car sales situation, but with more gimmicks. “Buy Two Get One Free,” “Free TVs,” and “50% off if they can showcase your house.” But the gimmicks don’t just stop there. Kevlar brackets, wool-fiber transition seals, bulletproof glass material vent latches, foam filled windows, and low e filter. What they don’t tell you is that the glass they use is most likely identical to that of windows found in the stock windows at Home Depots or Lowes. Truth be told, there are only a handful of window glass makers, and most of them distribute to local window sellers to be cut.

Is there a difference between their frames and Home Depots? Almost certainly. The biggest difference overall probably is the  finishing features, the trim of the window. As for the gimmicks like Kevlar brackets, I’m not sold it really is that big of a difference. But rest assured that most window salesman will tell you that their window is better and any competitor will improperly install their inferior windows if you choose them. Also all sales representatives will say “they custom make your windows.” But rest assured that is exactly what Home Depot will do for you as well.

I ordered a custom made window from Home Depot today. An American Standard 39.25 by 57.625inch  single hung, argon filled, low e, energy star rated, replacement vinyl window with the grid in the glass. The cost: $169.57 before discounts. Cost after discounts: $153.49. Now I am certain that if I talked to a windows representative, they would tell me this window is trash and that it will fail, but you know what? I intend on finding out first hand. I’ve put my money where my mouth is, and I’m ready to see first hand if these windows are similar quality.

The sad part of the world of windows is the lack of reliable information. If you get online and do searches for brands, you will get completely bias reviews for literally any product line. Even installers of certain types of windows will bash the other high priced name brand windows. Ultimately I want to try the self-install method and see how it goes. The main reason is the window salesman are just too shady for me to deal with. They don’t break down pricing very well, they offer phony promotions, and you never feel that you truly have an understanding why their window is better than another window. They also will never sell their windows directly to you (because they don’t want to show the price of the item versus installation costs).

Time to see if I threw away $153.49. I’ll keep you updated on this my vinyl window replacement. 

Make a Living off Google PageRank

Google PagerankDo you know there are people on the internet that make more than you and they aren’t actually producing anything? Sadly it’s true. How can this be possible? Making a Living off Google Pagerank.

Google Pagerank is effectively how well your website ranks on a given keywords and/or searches,and  the better your rank is the more traffic and potential revenue you are likely to generate.  Google calculates your pagerank based on a very advance scoring system. One of the best ways to “score points” and gain page rank with Google is to have backlinks. When a website links to another website, it effectively marks the website as being more relevant. For instances, the other day when writing about small housing living, I linked “the tiny house blog.” By linking to this site, I have effectively told Google that this site is “the real deal” and legit.

The amount of voting power I have is based off my site’s Pagerank (Scale 1 through 10). This voting power then effectively has value to people who want their website to be viewed as “the real deal.”  So what do web admin professional do? They setup hundreds or even thousands of websites and try to establish Pagerank to sell. You might think this sounds fairly legit, but it rarely is.

Most of these web admins steal their content for their websites or use generators to take existing content and rework it. In fact there are programs out there that can completely rework and reword an existing article to make it unique content within seconds. Luckily my grammar and punctuation is so bad, I think those reworking programs would probably fail on my articles. Heck there are even free web based versions of these rewriters online.

Don’t feel like being the guy ripping off people’s content? Well then buy “unique” content from someone else. There are various forums where you can buy databases of articles for literally pennies. On these forums you will see things like “100 unique articles about personal finance for $12.” Newflash: those are not unique articles.

Suppose that you do find these “unique article” by the barrel full, you can now generate 100’s of websites and wait for a re-ranking from Google. Google re-ranks Pagerank about once a quarter. The question then becomes how much is a Pagerank 1,2,3, etc. website’s backlinks worth? This is a question that is hard to answer, but I would say a Pagerank 2 should be able to generate at least $80 a month. You have 100 of these sites running, you are looking at a cool $8,000 a month or $96,000 a year.

I have talked to two individuals who are building their empire now on backlinks and many of them do not see anything wrong with buying cheap “unique” content and establishing these websites. Most will also go on to tell you how hard maintaining that many websites can be, but frankly I don’t care. These people are generating nothing of value and some are making a good living off these websites.

To make it worse, some of these people preset their websites with hoppers of content to be published. They take a database of 100 articles and have them publish once every 4 days. This means they can buy a domain and $20 worth of “unique” articles, and put their site on autopilot for well over a year.

I thought about posting some examples of these websites, but I don’t want to give these sites backlinks! I also want to make it clear that I know there are some of these web admins that try to do this and fail miserably, but there is a good amount of people who are succeeding. You would also be surprised to see how well some of these people are at hiding the fact that the website’s content is not unique, websites you wouldn’t imagine.

Thinking about launching a career in web admin and website owning? Just be warned it is a dangerous game. Google can discover what you are doing and assess penalties against your websites. Imagine have an empire of 100 successful websites generate $8,000 a month and then waking up one day to find out 90 of your 100 websites are now pagerank 0 and your income just went down 90%.

It’s a crazy world out there and the internet is definitely the wild west when it comes to making money and its amazing to think people are making a living off Google Pagerank.

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