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Minimalism

02/15/17 Minimalism , Work

Why I’m Dropping Another Side Gig

Why I’m Dropping Another Side Gig

For the past two years I’ve tried to increase my semi-passive income by buying two websites. As a side gig to my work as a freelance writer, I thought that they’d be easy enough to keep going while helping me meet an important financial goal — paying my family’s monthly mortgage.

It didn’t work out as well as I hoped it would, and I recently sold an investing website called Before You Invest after about two years of ownership. It was an interesting side gig, but I found that I didn’t have the time to devote to it that I thought it deserved.

The sale comes about six months after I sold another site I bought as a side gig and a way to add some semi-passive income — FamousParenting.com. I wrote about this sale in 2016, explaining that it was taking up too much of my time and wasn’t making much money.

After starting with a sudden change from how the site had been running for years with weekly posts on the best parenting sites, it looks like the new owner of FamousParenting has changed it to original blog writing that should hopefully attract more readers. Continue reading

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01/06/17 Minimalism , Saving # ,

Dollar Shave Club Changed How I Look at Shaving

Dollar Shave Club Changed How I Look at Shaving

 

It has taken me about two years to go through a 24-pack of Gillette razors I bought at Costco for some unbelievably low price. That freedom from having unused razors clutter up my bathroom has finally given me the chance to try a new razor at Dollar Shave Club.

After only two months of use, I’m resold on where I buy my razors and how I shave.

First, I should say that I’m not being paid by Dollar Shave Club to review it, and that my only goal here is to share my shaving joy with the company, DSC for short.

Two years in the making

What got me started on this path was a story I wrote in November 2014 for AOL about razors being sold everywhere online and if they were a better deal than buying them at a store. DSC was the best deal in my price comparison, and it still offers the same prices it did then: four cartridges for $6 or $9, depending on if you wanted four or six blades.

Like many online businesses, DSC and others jumped on the fact that razors were unnecessarily expensive in stores. Monopolies by Gillette and Schick, along with huge advertising budgets, created high prices. Continue reading

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10/28/16 Minimalism , Saving # , ,

How I Save $1,000 Per Year With 3 Quick Phone Calls

How I Save $1,000 Per Year With 3 Quick Phone Calls

When I got laid off from my job eight years ago, one of the first things my wife and I did was look for ways to cut expenses. The monthly combined cable TV-landline phone-Internet bill stood out the most as an easy way to save $1,000.

Unfortunately, there weren’t many options to cutting the cable cord then, so we stuck with our monthly cable TV bill of around $100 for four more years until we finally got rid of it. We also eventually got rid of our landline phone, and now each have a cellphone.

So with two parts of the three-part cable company bill eliminated, that left us with only Internet service to pay for. It was a service we needed — I started working at home as a freelance writer and needed Internet access to work — so killing it wasn’t going to happen.

If the cost wasn’t going to be eliminated, the next-best thing to do was to negotiate a lower price with our Internet provider. It’s a task I took on with gusto, mainly because I like negotiating prices and getting a deal, but also because it just seemed like a ripoff to pay $80-something a month as a long-time customer when new customers were paying half that.

3 phone calls per year

The negotiation is as simple as making a quick phone call that lasts about five minutes.

I call our Internet provider once a year and our newspaper twice a year for the lowest price each offers new customers. I have to call the New York Times and haggle twice a year because it only offers discounts for six months at a time. Continue reading

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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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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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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.