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09/19/16 Minimalism , Work # ,

The Frightening Side of Free

The Frightening Side of Free

 

My Instagam account was hacked awhile ago, and how easily it was done and the site’s inability to help me has set back my acceptance of free social media accounts online.

It’s not enough to make me want to delete my email account — as one prominent person did after learning of Colin Powell’s hacked email account — but it’s enough to seriously get me to put less of my personal life online. I already have much of my professional life online, and I rely on it and my name to help me get more work as a freelance journalist. My name, after all, is my business website.

And by hacking, I don’t mean that my private Instagram account that I only allowed people to see via invitation was published publicly — though that or something worse may have happened and I don’t know about it. By hacking, I mean that my account was taken over by someone else and I can’t get it back.

“That’s not the end of the world,” you might say. Agreed. I can sign up for another Instagram account very easily. And any photos that I put up there that I wanted to keep have already been uploaded from my phone to my computer, so at least those aren’t lost.

What worries me is the unknown, how easily this happened, and why Instagram doesn’t seem to give a hoot that my account was stolen. What is the new owner of the site doing with my photos? Are my other social media accounts in danger? Is everyone this vulnerable? Continue reading

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09/06/16 Personal Finance , Retirement , Saving , Work #

I’m a Financial Blogger Who Isn’t Sinking in Debt. Is That Bad?

I’m a Financial Blogger Who Isn’t Sinking in Debt. Is That Bad?

 

I’m going to a conference in a few weeks for financial bloggers. Many of the attendees have been in some major debt at some point in their lives, and write about it often and how they’ve overcome it.

Not me. I have three finance blogs — one focuses on personal finance, another on investing, and this one, CashSmarter, is where I share my life lessons on personal finance. Other than a mortgage, I don’t have any major debts and I’ve never been so far in debt to a credit card that I’ve had to pay off thousands and thousands of it down to get my financial life in order.

All of this makes me wonder if I’m meeting my goal of telling a compelling financial story that people want to read about. If I haven’t been $147,000 in debt, or haven’t paid off $26,000 in debt in 18 months — real stories by real bloggers I respect and enjoy reading — how is my story worth reading?

Reading how someone extricated themselves from six figures of debt can be fascinating — even if you’ve never been in that much debt. Anyone with a credit card knows how easy it can be to add more charges to a card, so going into a huge amount of debt isn’t too far-fetched for many of us.

And getting out of it is the typical American tale of overcoming large obstacles to become a success. It’s a life lesson worth reading about for lots of people. Continue reading

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08/30/16 Investing

The Start of a Curious Stock Investor

The Start of a Curious Stock Investor

The first thing that fed my curiosity about being a stock investor was a simple assignment from a high school history teacher.

As a newspaper reader since junior high school, I was always interested in how news affected a stock’s price. Sometimes the news didn’t affect it much, but when it did, the impact could be huge.

Partly as an excuse to keep a handful of students out of his hair for awhile, I suspect, one of my high school history teachers sent a few students at a time to the school library to look up stocks in the newspaper and track them. We only did this over a few months, and getting yesterday’s stock prices was the most updated information we had.

In tracking stock prices, I noted if the company was in the news for a good or bad reason. If a company made a major mistake, the price might drop for a few days.

My first pick as a stock investor

Following the news led me to my first purchase as a stock investor after I read about Coleco and the new products it was introducing. I already owned a Coleco Electronic Quarterback game, playing it for hours and even bringing it to school to play with my friends during lunch.

Investing in what you know is a common principal for a stock investor, and as a boy who played that electronic game often, I saw the popularity of it and was intrigued by Coleco’s plans. Continue reading

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08/22/16 Children , Travel , Work # ,

Money Lessons from a Summer Off

Money Lessons from a Summer Off

 

School is back in session in many areas of the country, giving parents everywhere a reason to celebrate the end of summer.

As a freelancer who works from home, I’m about as ecstatic as you can get that my daughter is going back to school — though probably not as much as this guy:

I’m not doing cartwheels yet, or even rolling around on a shopping cart, but not having a child burst into my home office and ask to watch TV, play with the iPod, say how bored she is, or fix herself a sugary snack in the kitchen is enough of a time reward that I can get back to writing for my websites.

I did manage to get some work done for my clients — I tried to work from 9 a.m. to noon on most weekdays during the summer — but now I’m looking forward to writing for my websites after giving them most of the summer off.

It was a fun 10 weeks. We took a few in-state vacations, and I learned a few money lessons along the way: Continue reading

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06/03/16 Minimalism , Work # ,

Why My Websites Are Taking Summer Off

Why My Websites Are Taking Summer Off

Summer is a great time to take a vacation. The weather is great and it’s difficult to get motivated to work when there are nice, sunny days outside to enjoy. Taking summer off — meaning the entire summer — isn’t an option for many people.

But taking summer off is something I’m doing with my websites this year. The reason is simple: Fewer readers and fewer advertisers.

I’ve owned this site and two other personal finance sites — Add-Vodka.com and BeforeYouInvest.com — for about a year and a half, and I’ve seen monthly drops during June and July in readership and advertisers.

For those reasons I’m not going to add any content to the sites during those months. I may add a post from time to time if something timely comes up, but for the most part I’m taking summer off as a writer/editor of my sites.

I expect readership will drop during the next two months, but hopefully it will get back up to normal and beyond in August when I return to regular posting.

Taking summer off, mostly

Personally, I’ll still be working this summer as a freelance writer and editor, working for clients that I’m grateful to have. But I’m still planning on taking some time off this summer by getting ahead on my workload each month. Continue reading

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Welcome
Hi, I'm Aaron Crowe. Welcome to CashSmarter. I'm a personal finance freelance writer who enjoys spending my money wisely and using minimalism to make my money last longer while increasing income.
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