Alternative Income

Are Real Estate Guru’s Worth the Money?

Posted by 26 February, 2009 (10) Comment

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Have you ever thought about getting into real estate investing?

I know everyone has seen those late night infomercials about how you can buy property for “no money down, etc.” While attending a larger real estate seminars it’s it’s hard not to get excited. You have all of these self-proclaimed “guru’s” running around making all sorts of “money” while most Americans are struggling to pay the bills. I’m not one that is interested in doing what other people do. In fact, I generally try to avoid the herd mentality all together. However, similar to when you are bidding on an item on Ebay and you are excited about getting a “deal”, a real estate investing seminar can draw many people to purchase a real estate guru’s CD and tapes. Usually towards the end of the real estate guru’s allowed time, he or she will announce some special offer to the first X number of people. This isn’t what gets me and many others. It’s the fact that when he or she announces this “special” deal, people are literally RUNNING to the table to drop $1000 or more. Looking back on it, it sounds absolutely crazy that a person could get caught up in this, but the real estate guru’s are very good at what they do, selling.

Why do you need a real estate investing mentor?

There are two ways to learn, you can either go out and make the mistakes yourself, or you can learn from someone else’s successes and failures.

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell

Perhaps I am not as patient as others, but I would much rather lean on another person’s knowledge when tackling a new field. This will enable you to get a jump start on the learning curve. This could potentially shave YEARS off your goals not to mention potentially avoiding many of the expensive pitfalls involved in real estate investing. Still not convinced you need a mentor for real estate investing? At the very least, be in close contact with a good Realtor and a good real estate attorney to make sure you are not breaking any laws.

Here are some common sense “rules” I personally use when going to a real estate seminar or meeting so I don’t buy something I shouldn’t buy?

1. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is the case.

2. If they talk about how much money they have and the cars they own, definitely walk away.

3. If people talk about how easy it is, run. In my opinion, real estate is not complex, it’s a numbers game like many things in life, but it’s not easy. It takes hard work.

4. Whenever someone is trying to sell me something, I ask myself these questions:

a. How are they making money? What’s in it for them?

b. Ask them, “if I knew what you knew, would I buy your product?”

c. Ask them, “if I buy your product, knowing what you know, am I soon going to regret this purchase?”

5. A friend of mine is susceptible to the selling techniques used by many of the real estate guru’s so he simply leaves his check book and credit cards at home. The funny part about him is that he’s been a full time real estate investor for over 30 years. He knows the in’s and out’s of real estate and has been retired from his job for over three decades, yet he is still tempted to buy.

6. If the real estate guru paints a picture of all sunshine and no pitfalls, run. There are a ton of ways to make money, but I’ve never seen a way to make money that doesn’t involve risk. Speaking of risk, Stock market, anyone?

7. If you are serious about real estate investing, don’t invest money in a national guru that lives 1500 miles away. Invest in someone that lives in your town. Only they will know the intricacies of your market. For instance, my wife and I signed up with a local real estate investing guru from Dallas. Dallas is 40 miles away from Fort Worth (where we live). This guru has heard of the different areas of the Fort Worth area, but wasn’t familiar enough with the area to know that the City of Fort Worth is investing a lot of money in an area known as the Fairmont Historical District. The guru also didn’t know of Fort Worth’s plans to build an “Uptown” area making North Fort Worth a nice long term real estate investment.

8. Ask for a list of people and their phone numbers that the real estate investing guru has helped so you can check their references. If they are indeed as good as they say they are, then they shouldn’t have a problem giving you references of people they have helped succeed. A local real estate investing club, we recently joined, has pictures of their members on the wall with the numbers from their first deal.

9. Get everything in writing! We had a local real estate investing guru who we decided to be mentored by. Everything went really well from the beginning. We checked his references and everyone had nothing but high regards for the individual. However, part of the agreement was that we would partner with the guru on a few deals. We spent many evenings learning from the guru. We were pumped and happy we found him! However, when it came time to actually start doing the deals, the guru changed his mind and decided that he was too busy to work with us on deals.

10. Make sure they have an office. This rule isn’t necessarily a deal breaker for me, but I think it’s something you should be cognizant about. In my opinion, it would be optimal if the real estate investing guru you hire has an office somewhere. It’s always nice to track people if they decide they aren’t going to return your phone call.

11. Instead of straight compensation, structure the mentor being paid based on your performance. Unfortunately, there are a lot of factors that go into whether a person becomes a successful real estate investor. For some people, they are “fence sitters” and will never pull the trigger. I’m not going to pretend to have the answer, but it would be nice if the real estate investing guru was paid based on the performance of the student. For instance, it would be nice if a student agreed to buy their investment houses through the guru or some similar arrangement in exchange for being mentored. The only problem for the guru is that a large percentage of people, while interested in real estate investing, will never do a deal. This certainly puts the real estate investing guru with a big heart in a predicament, but it won’t take very many of those students who never do a deal to not mentor anyone else unless they are paying a large sum of money.

Lastly, if you are doing to invest money in a real estate investing guru, please take the time to read John T Reed’s reviews of the various gurus. He has become pretty famous in the real estate investing community through his reviews of gurus, the books he has written, and the newsletter he publishes.

Have you ever invested money in a real estate investing guru? What were your experiences? Have you done any real estate deals?

Photo by: Woodley Wonder Works

Outside Resources:

Guru’s – A great take on real estate guru’s by Mr. Cheap over at Four Pillars.

http://www.creonline.com/ – This website has an extensive list of articles and a really active forum for questions.
http://www.biggerpockets.com/ – A really large community of real estate investors. I’ve found the forums to be really useful.

Other Posts:

Interview: FairRepair.com
Interview: Professional Blogger
Case Study: My Adventures in Forex Trading (Update: 2/16)
The TED Spread and What It Means to You
Book Review: The One Minute Entrepreneur

Categories : Alternative Income,Entrepreneur,Real Estate Investing Tags :

Interview: Professional Blogger

Posted by 19 February, 2009 (27) Comment

Miranda Bizzia

I was fortunate enough to meet Miranda through a blogging organization. I had seen her profile through multiple social networks and was fascinated at how she seemed to be EVERYWHERE. You can find her at her blog, www.mirandamarquit.com. Let’s get to know Miranda Marquit!

Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m a 29-year-old freelance writer and professional blogger. I’m a work at home mom (WAHM) with one son. I have a M.A. in Journalism from Syracuse University. I love that my work allows me to live in the back-end of Utah and still make money while my husband finishes school. In addition to blogging, I write a column for my local newspaper, report for PhysOrg.com and do a little editing. I’ve also contributed book chapters to different projects, and have done some work for Discover magazine (along with other print publications).

Q: Are you a full time blogger? How did you get into blogging and why?

Out of my about 30-hour workweek, nearly 20 hours are spent in a blog-related way. I began blogging nearly four years ago when Robyn Tippins, who does sleepyblogger.com and is the Community Manager for Yahoo! Developer Network, found me posting regularly on Associated Content in a desperate attempt to pay the rent. All of my fellow grads were working in magazines or newspapers, but I knew I wanted to stay home with my son — so I went the online route. And I had no idea what I was doing. Robyn told me that blogging would pay much better, and that I could do it professionally for companies looking to integrate blogs into their online campaigns. Turns out she was right. Along the way, I discovered that I love the editorial form known as the blog.

Q: You seem to be all over the Internet. Between stumbling other people’s articles to commenting, you seem to be everywhere. Do you think this web networking has contributed to your success as a blogger?

It’s funny you should mention that. I’ve had long-lost friends, trying to reconnect, say that I’m the easiest person for them to find. Sometimes I wonder if that is a good thing…Anyway, the blogosphere is a very karmic place. I find that more people want to visit my blog if I visit theirs, and contribute in some meaningful way — whether it is with a non-spam comment or some sort of social media vote. Web networking definitely plays a role. So many people have been introduced to me through social media — and I’ve found many gems through networking as well.

Q: Is there any other networking that you do to help your blogging business?

Not really. I let people know offline, but, really, for the most part nearly all of my networking takes place online. Twitter and LinkedIn have both been especially helpful.

Q: What are some of your goals this year for your blogs?

What does every blogger want? Better stats! But really, I’d like to develop a more refined “voice” that speaks to the audiences I have for my blogs. And at some point I’d really like to do more with my personal blog and work on monetizing it. After all, when you write for someone else, you only have so much leeway to really be yourself.

Q: How do you keep coming up with material? I seem to struggle sometimes with coming up with different articles and I only have one blog.

One of the best ways to come up with material is to have a news reader. Every morning I see what it is going on in the world of finance and business. I have feeds from mainstream sources, as well as my favorite blogs. Additionally, I keep my eyes open for what’s going on in my life, and in the lives of those around me. In September 2007, my experience as a first-time homebuyer provided several posts for one of my mortgage blogs. If you are writing about something that applies to you, it is a little easier to find material.

Q: If someone was interested in blogging, what would be a few things you would suggest?

I suggest blogging about something you know. Additionally, take the time to find your own voice. Just copying someone else will leave you unsatisfied. Figure out what interests you, and then write about it authentically. Post regularly, and try to vary things up a bit, changing the length of posts and adding other media — images and video — to your blogs on occasion. And, of course, have fun with it.

Q: A lot of people are interested in blogging for the money earning potential. What are some tips for people interesting in making money from blogging? What are some realistic expectations in regards to what can be made?

The first tip is to scale back your expectations. I’ve found, personally, that blogging for other people pays faster than trying to build your own blog from the ground up (although if you’re really good at your own blog, you can grow your earning potential through advertising and other means). Realistically, though, it is important to understand that you don’t make money overnight when blogging — no matter who you do it for. When first starting out, you’ll be lucky to get enough to cover your Internet costs. If you work for other people, you may find that, until you get a little experience, you will be paid as little as $3 to $5 per post — or less if it’s all based on traffic or revenue sharing. (Right now, I average about $18-$23 per post, plus traffic bonuses for some clients.)

Contact Info:

E-mail: mirandamarquit [at] gmail.com

website: www.mirandamarquit.com

Other Posts:

Case Study: My Adventures in Forex Trading (Update: 2/16)
The TED Spread and What It Means to You
Book Review: The One Minute Entrepreneur
Interview: FairRepair.com
Carnival of Personal Development – February 2, 2009

Categories : Alternative Income Tags : ,

Case Study: My Adventures in Forex Trading (Update: 2/16)

Posted by 16 February, 2009 (23) Comment

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Here is a link to the first post regarding my adventures in Forex Trading. I’m pretty happy with the progress I’ve made over the last month. I probably spend an average of 5-10 hour per week talking with my mentor Mindy while simultaneously trading and watching the market.

I think the biggest surprise for me has been how fast the market can move. The first few weeks of my training occurred during the Christmas and New Years holidays. This time of the year is a quieter as far as Forex trading is concerned and the market wasn’t as active due to many of the large currency traders being on vacation since we are trading the Euro/USD pair.

ACCOUNT SUMMARY
Beginning Balance 15,479.00
Comm Trading Commission 0.00
Rollover Rollover Fee 26.70
PnL Profit/Loss of Trade 1,262.70
Depos Deposit 0.00
Withd Withdrawal 0.00
Option Options Payout 0.00
Comm Options Commission 0.00
AdminFee Administrative fee 0.00
MngFee Management Fee 0.00
PerfFee Performance Fee 0.00
Void Deposit Rollback 0.00
ASPComm ASP Commission 0.00
MargInterest Interest on Usable Margin 0.00
Ending Balance 16,768.40
Floating P/L -2,787.10
Equity 13,981.30
Necessary Margin 300.00
Usable Margin 13,681.30

Above is my account summary for the month. This is a demo account so no actual money is involved. This represents my trading from January 14th to February 15th. The first thing to take note of is my beginning and ending balance. I’ve gained over $1200 or 1200 pips for the month. The rollover fee that you’ll notice in the third line is for any trades that I have executed, but the trade was open after 4 p.m. CST. The bank charges interest for the ability to leverage money and this is represented in the rollover fee. Mindy’s strategy for me is to not hold trades for very long, but I’d much rather hang onto a trade for a little while as opposed to losing money. I do want to point out that while I have gained money in the balance column, if I were to close out my account today and sell my trades, I would still be negative over $1000. I want to make sure I’m not sugar coating my experience. It’s very interesting and I’m making progress, but I would be negative if I were to close out today. Fortunately, there are tactics that Mindy could help me employ if needed – for example if my usable margin (currently at 97.80% as I type this on 2/15) were 80% or lower.

My goal for the next month is to have an equity position that is over $15,000 (my original position).

Have you ever traded Forex? What are your experiences?

Photo by Wili

Other Posts:

The TED Spread and What It Means to You
Book Review: The One Minute Entrepreneur
Interview: FairRepair.com
Carnival of Personal Development – February 2, 2009
Book Review: The How of Happiness

Categories : Alternative Income,Entrepreneur Tags : ,

Case Study: My Adventures in Forex Trading

Posted by 15 January, 2009 (22) Comment

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Welcome to our Forex Case Study on Happiness Is Better.

To ensure you don’t miss anything, be sure to subscribe to our free full RSS Feed!

I am being coached by Forex expert, Mindy Yost. She has been Forex trading for over 8 years and full time for 6 years. I will be detailing my progress through a monthly report. I opened a demo account and am currently trading under her guidance through Skype (wow, Skype is really handy!). Skype is essentially an internet-based phone/text communication service (VOIP).

To start off our training, Mindy had me read through a handy website, Baby Pips. If you’ve never heard of Forex before, it stands for the foreign exchange (currency) market. Forex trading is the buying or selling of a currency “pair” and the one that I am learning about is the Euro paired with the US Dollar and is called the EUR/USD.  In the Forex world, there is a thing known as a pip. I had heard the term pip before, but I really didn’t understand what it meant. A pip is the increment by which a currency pair is measured for trading purposes. In the case of the EUR/USD, a pip is 1/100th of a cent and would be displayed as $0.0001. Baby Pips explains a pip as “if the EUR/USD moves from 1.2250 to 1.2251, that is ONE PIP. A pip is the last decimal place of a quotation. The Pip is how you measure your profit or loss.” The Pip VALUE however is a little different and is determined by the size of the trade you make. In Forex trading you cannot trade one EUR/USD at a time. Forex is traded in 100,000 units at a time in a standard account, and 10,000 at a time in a mini account.  I am using a mini account so the pip value when I trade one mini lot is $1.00 ($0.0001 X 10,000). So, when I am in a trade, I will earn or lose $1.00 for each pip the market moves. If I were to trade multiple mini lots at a time, the pip value would be determined by multiplying $1.00 times the number of mini lots I made the trade for. Basically, the more pips the market moves in the direction of my trade the better! If the market moves against my trade, that can be a bad thing. But, as Mindy says, the market can only do two things – go up or go down, so if you are willing to wait it out, your trade will probably be profitable sooner or later (if you have enough money in your account to cover the loss before the market goes your way).

So what makes Forex trading so attractive? One major advantage Forex trading has over traditional stocks is leverage. Leverage means that when you make a Forex trade, you essentially only put down a small deposit for the trade.  In most cases the Leverage Ratio is 200:1. So, when I do a one mini lot trade, instead of fronting $10,000 to make that trade, I only put up a $50 deposit to control the 10,000 units in the mini lot. Another new term to me is that of a “Margin Call”. In Forex trading, the Brokerage House will not let you lose more money that is in your account, so if your trade go so far negative, that you no longer have any more money to cover any additional loss on you trade, they will close your trade at the accrued loss.  This means that you will have lost a lot of money and is a bad thing, but, unlike some other venues, at least they will not call you up and ask for even MORE money! Leverage is always a double edged sword, and can work for you or against you. One thing that Mindy has stressed to me is the importance of properly funding your account. The best way to protect yourself in Forex is to “over fund” your account and put way more money in it that what you expect to trade with and then make small trades. Also, remember these things: 1) do not open an account with money you can’t afford to lose, 1) do not open an account with “a little” money as a test-the-waters type of trial, and 3) don’t trade Forex unless you have nerves of steel. You can properly fund your account yet trade in small quantities to minimize risk while you are getting your feet wet. However, if you do not properly fund your account, you run into the possibility of having the broker perform a margin call and lose your money. Another attractive feature of Forex is that it’s a large market that can’t be altered or controlled by a few people. To give you an idea of the enormity of Forex, about $4 trillion is exchanged daily compared to $25 billion exchanged on the New York Stock Exchange. There are also no commissions charged by the brokers and you can trade basically 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

If you are interested in Forex trading, it is advisable that you read through School of Pipsology on Baby Pips and if you want to contact Mindy for mentoring, let me know (happinessisbetter@gmail.com) and I will give you her email address.

It’ll be at least a month or two before I start trading with real money, but in the mean time I’ll be showing you the results of my demo account.

Here is our first report on how we are doing with our demo account.

ACCOUNT SUMMARY
Beginning Balance 15,000.00
Comm Trading Commission 0
Rollover Rollover Fee 19.6
PnL Profit/Loss of Trade 466.2
Depos Deposit 0
Withd Withdrawal 0
Option Options Payout 0
Comm Options Commission 0
AdminFee Administrative fee 0
MngFee Management Fee 0
PerfFee Performance Fee 0
Void Deposit Rollback 0
ASPComm ASP Commission 0
MargInterest Interest on Usable Margin 0
Ending Balance 15,485.80
Floating P/L -1,955.80
Equity 13,530.00
Necessary Margin 300
Usable Margin 13,230.00

We’ve profited $466.20 because we are trading in a mini account and we are only trading one unit (we are cautious and HIGHLY suggested by Mindy) at a time. If you look at the Floating P/L, you will notice we are -$1955.80 in the hole. As previously stated, we have not lost that money because we have not re-exchanged the currency pair. Mindy has told us that the market always goes up and goes down, and as long as you are willing and able to hold onto the trade, we will more than likely not lose money.

Stay Tuned!

Do you trade in Forex? How do you like it?

Photo by: Zack Attack

Other Posts:

Interview: 2 Million Dollars Made in Network Marketing – It’s All About Leadership!
6 Reasons Why I Joined Toastmasters
Goals for 2009
Goals from 2008 – How Did I Do?
Interview: Do You Have What It Takes to Own a Franchise?

Categories : Alternative Income,Entrepreneur,Personal Finance Tags : , ,

Do You Squidoo?

Posted by 6 October, 2008 (14) Comment

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Squidoo is a website that allows anyone to EASILY build a single page website called a “lens”. The lens can focus on a particular subject or can be a broad overview. The person who makes the lens is termed a “lensmaster”. Squidoo claims you can build a lens in 60 seconds and best of all, it’s free!

So, who should use Squidoo?

1. Business owner

2. Blogger

3. Anyone marketing anything

4. People who are passionate about a subject and want to spread the knowledge.

5. People who want to complete a simple webpage about themselves.

Why should you Squidoo?

1. Money

There are a few ways to make money using Squidoo.

On your lens, you can elect to have Google ads displayed. This can be a revenue source for you, but it will more than likely take some time to see any money so be patient.

You can opt to showcase Amazon, eBay, and CafePress items on your lens and if people purchase them, you earn commission. This is also termed “affiliate marketing”.

You can also make money by referring traffic from your lens to your blog or website. Of course, you only make money on your website or blog if you have advertising of some form.

2. Give to Charity

One of the great aspects about Squidoo, and has most likely attributed to a lot of it’s popularity, is that they give to charity and give YOU the option to give to charity. The breakdown of revenue is:

1. 5% goes to charity off the top of the revenue they pull in from ads and affiliate links. You don’t see this from too many companies so Squidoo should certainly be commended for that.

2. 45% of the revenue goes to the overhead of running Squidoo.

3. The other 50% goes to either the charity of the lensmaster’s choice, or is directed to the lensmaster in the form of cash.

3. Simple Web Page

There are not too many other websites that can get you up and running as quickly as Squidoo.

4. Great Publicity

Building Squidoo lenses that direct people to your website or blog is a great (and free) way to promote your services. If you have a blog, you need to have a Squidoo lens.

Even if Squidoo doesn’t seem like your “cup of tea”, I would encourage you to visit a charity lens that Squidoo set up: http://www.squidoo.com/squidoo-charity-giveaway. For every vote they receive for a charity, they will donate $2 (up to $80,000) to that charity. As I write this, I believe they have already exceeded the 40,000 vote ($80,000) figure, but you are still able to vote.

You can go here to make your first lens!

Also, here is my profile on Squidoo: http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/HappinessisBetter

Some other alternatives to Squidoo are:

Hubpages – From what I’ve read, it’s very similar to Squidoo with a different look and feel. I am not familiar with Hubpages and JUST signed up moments ago.

Here is a review of Hubpages vs. Squidoo by JohnKnoo.com

Oondi – This is another website very similar to Squidoo and Hubpages, but not as well known. I’ve read that they pay 100% of the advertising income instead of the 50% offered by Squidoo. I’m also not very familiar with this website.

Anyone have experience with these websites?

photo by TeamStickerGiant

Categories : Alternative Income,Entrepreneur Tags :