Sunday, January 30, 2011

Renting out possessions to make money

As a part-time worker and full-time student, I don't have a good enough cash flow to buy property. However, if I can't make $600 a month from renting out a room in my hypothetical condo, I figure I can make a little less money renting out smaller things.

One thing I've been hearing about is renting out projectors. A big screen and a high def projector are generally too expensive of an investment for use at just a couple of events. More and more people are turning towards the renter's market to borrow a projector for one night at a wedding or dance, etc. I figure most people would be willing to pay around 3 to 5 hundred dollars to have a big projector at their event, and if you find a few of those nights a month, you'll pay off a $2000 projector fairly quickly.

Anyways, that idea just came to me. I'll try to think of other random (non-property) things that people pay to rent and post them in a few days. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Student Loan Refinancing

Many of my readers seem to be students. Many student have high student loans. Today's post is about how to manage and eventually pay off your student loan with the least cost to you.

The first option is to consolidate your student loans with credit card, auto, and house loans in order to get a lower interest rate. Debt consolidation, just like it sounds, combines individual debts at differing interest rates into one easy-to-manage loan at the lowest possible rate of credit. There are a number of firms that do this for you.

Since student loans are the only debt I have, this isn't really a great option for me: the money I've borrowed for my student loans have prevented me from entering credit card or auto debt (that's the point, right?). So what other options do we have?

The other major option is to contact your loan provider and ask for a lower interest rate or a longer period of repayment. Obviously, a lower interest payment is preferred because it is reducing your long-term debt. Students can ask to refinance their loans once they leave school.

The final option of dealing with your student loan is to not pay it at all. By defaulting on your loan, you are basically screwing the system over for your personal benefit. However, there are serious consequences to this: your credit rating will be destroyed and, depending on who you get a loan from, collection agencies will come after you and try to repossess your stuff.

If, like many students, you don't have any assets, then declare bankruptcy. Move overseas, where they don't care about your Canadian credit rating, and success, you've now avoided paying your student loan.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Lemon Laws

Everybody has received a lemon at some point in their lives - a lemon is a term for an item, such as a car, that, for whatever reason, has a number of problems with it.

In Grade 4, I got a bike for my birthday that had to be a lemon - I was taking the stupid thing in for repairs every month or so.

Back then, I knew nothing about lemon laws. These are the legal rights of a citizen of the United States (and probably elsewhere) to return a vehicle by virtue of it being a lemon. Unfortunately, we don't have them in Canada, but we do have some other consumer protection.

Amyways, for my American readers, I looked up some stuff about lemon laws in California., which states,

"If the manufacturer or its representative in this state, such as an authorized dealer, is unable to service or repair a new motor vehicle to meet the terms of an express written warranty after a reasonable number of repair attempts, the manufacturer is required promptly to replace the vehicle or return the purchase price to the lessee or buyer."

The manufacturer will also cover all costs incurred by the consumer, which includes the cost of financing, or any minor repairs, towing costs, etc.

Any vehicles that have fewer than 18,000 miles on the odometer, and are still broken after numerous repair attempts, are eligible to be returned under lemon law in California.


There are a number of specialists in California who can provide a free consultation for lemon law claimants. Happy claiming!


Pro tip: Buy a new car that looks like a lemon, return it at 17,999 miles - you've just been paid to have a car for all that time.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Making money through website domains

Have you ever wanted to start up your own website? Well, the first step, obviously, is to buy a domain.

The domain is a unique name for your website, and provides an address at which your clients can reach you. After getting a domain, your next step is to get proper hosting.

Fortunately, a lot of domain-purchasing websites also provide hosting, although it is usually a minimal amount of space/bandwidth.

Anyways, when I was 12, my friend and I did this. We wrote video game reviews, previews, etc. and ended up generating a little bit of profit (any money made when you're 12 years old seems like a fortune).

To conclude, the best - and cheapest - place I've found to purchase a domain is with Yahoo!. For $3.95 per year (!),Yahoo will set you up with your own website name. They'll even provide a decent-looking starter web page, seen to the left of this article.

Anyways, if you want to make as much money as I did when I was 12, look into something like Yahoo! domains. It's an easy and fun way to make money.


Oh, and before I forget....another fun thing to do with domains is to register names that you think will be popular in the upcoming future. For example, if you see a celebrity on American Idol and think that they're going to win it all, buy www.FantasiaBlahBlah.com for $3.95 from Yahoo domains. If it doesn't work out, you've lost a minimal amount of money.

However, if you manage to guess an upcoming company name, or popular new activity, these domains can sell for thousands of dollars. For example, www.sex.com sold for millions of dollars a few years ago. You can even buy the domain name off of someone else and hope its value appreciates like an investment.

Anyways, just thought I'd educate you guys on another way to make easy money. Good luck!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Mystery Shoppers

If you've ever worked in retail, you've probably heard about mystery shoppers. These are the normal looking people who come into a store and file a report on what they observe/experience.

The threat of getting a fabled 'mystery shopper' has kept many a lazy teenager vigilant. But who are these people? Where do they come from?

Well, apparently becoming a mystery shopper is quite straightforward. I just saw an ad from one 'mystey shopping' firm on a local employment website. It offers $12 per gig, plus (wait for it) they pay for everything you buy! One of my girlfriends has already e-mailed them, written her online quiz, and is now waiting for her first assignment.

All she has to do is fill out a short questionnaire after each store/restaurant visit, and she gets credit. I honestly don't see a downside to this. I figure if I'm going to go clothes shopping, or out for lunch, then I might as well get paid for it.

Do any of you know of friends or family members who have done this? Let me know in the comments section!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Doggy Birthdays

So it's my dog's 10th birthday in a few days, on January 15th, and I'm not sure how to celebrate. In past years, my family has taken him for an extra long walk a couple times during the day, and has given him nearly as many bones as he wants (if we gave him exactly as many bones as he wanted, he'd be dead or five hundred pounds larger by the end of the day).

I did a quick google search for ideas, and I was surprised how far some people go to celebrate the birthdays of their canine companions.

Look at how depressed this dog on the left is! Do you think he likes being dressed up and paraded around in front of other dogs/beloved family members? I sure don't think so.



On the other hand, this cake to the right is pretty awesome. I can't think of a single dog that wouldn't be delighted to receive that. As long as that bowl is filled with dog treats, and that brown icing isn't chocolate/poison, I can see my dog enjoying something like that.

I'll probably end up celebrating my dog's 10th birthday in what I believe is the best way: I'll take him to an off leash park, throw the tennis ball for him, let him play with some doggy friends, and then bring him home and treat him like he's the centre of attention with his favourite tug toy.

Anyways, do you want to know the best part about dog birthdays? The dogs clearly don't know what's going on. Aside from humans, who get really pissed when you miss their birthdays, doggies just think you're treating them with extra love all day long. Dogs just love you for who you are, and they don't need a special day of the year for you to tell them. I love my dog.



To conclude, here is a loldog

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Index Funds

I have room for $15,000 of tax free investments in my Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA). I've been looking at delving into iShares index funds / ETFs - exchange traded funds. Most of their ETFs seem to be doing well.

The iShares DEX Universe Bond Index Fund (XBB) has increased by about 40% in the past six years. It wasnt' even dented by the recession because it's founded on stable, guaranteed bonds. At around 6.5% returns per year, I believe that's a very good investment. I was planning on filling up 50% of my TFSA with guaranteed income funds such as this.

There are a number of other notable iShares funds that caught my eye. The S&P/TSX SmallCap (XCS) index returned 28% last year. In fact, the top 4 iShares funds in the last year were all based on the S&P and TSX. Rounding out the top 5 was the Canadian Dollar fund (XSU). However, I doubt that the CDN dollar is going to rise much higher than parity, which is where it's at now.

I'm more interested in some of the iShares emerging markets funds. Places like Brazil and the CIVET nations - Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey, and South Africa) are all set to expand in the next decade. I would be interested in investing in some of these markets.

This post has been pretty biased towards iShares, as that has been the focus of my research into investing. However, the five worst iShares funds averaged around 5% returns last year - not bad at all.

I don't have much experience investing, however, so I'd love to hear my readers' opinions on where to invest in 2011.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Enigma of Capital

I have to read this book for my sociology class:

I'm only a few pages in, but I already know it will be really interesting. It's one of those books that will undoubtedly give you a new outlook on life and the capitalist system.

"The Enigma of Capital" breaks down the causes of the economic recession which began in 2008. However, unlike many writers and academics, David Harvey argues that it was not necessarily sub-prime mortgages and the securitization of debt that caused the crash.

Rather, he states that the crisis has been an inevitable outcome of the new capitalist system that has arisen since the 1970s. Harvey argues that, in order to fuel our increasingly consumerist society, a new financial system was created which revolved largely around the credit - we were buying things we didn't need with money that we didn't have.

This credit-system led to the recent housing bubble because people who couldn't afford houses were buying them. When the bubble burst, so too did the financial credit system upon which our society depended.

In terms of socio-economics, I'm more right-wing. I believe the market, when used properly, will provide for its users better than any regulatory, or state-run organization could. However, I'm always open to new ideas, and its hard to argue with the evidence raised by Harvey, an intelligent and famous socio-economist, professor and author.

If you're looking for some insight into the recent crisis, and how we can prevent it from happening again, "The Enigma of Capital" will be a rewarding read.

Famous socio-economist and author......OR SANTA CLAUSE?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Hot Dog Vending

I know it's only January, but I can't help but think of the upcoming summer. The most important thing for me is getting a good job that will facilitate my entry into the 'real world' after school - being a cashier at a liquor store will not do this.

Lately, I've been thinking of going on a completely different path and starting my own business - a hot dog stand business! Apparently, with a little investment money, you can make a sizable amount of money over a summer. I've read stories of numerous hot dog vendors who make about $100,000 a year. Crazy, eh?

So the next few steps for me are to look into getting a health license, a business license, and a hot dog cart. The city in which I live is very tourist-y in the summer. Apparently it doubles in size. I believe I could make a nice chunk of change by hitting the beaches during the day and the clubs at night.

I worked out some of the math. Selling 1 hot dog every 5 minutes for $5 would generate me about $50/hour profit. If I work 8 hours a day, I think I could make some good money. Maybe I'll even pay off my massive student loans.

My question to you guys  is, do you know anybody who has successfully run a mobile vending business? What do you guys think of my plan?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

HAPPY NEW YEAR

So as you've probably realized, I took a break from posting new material. After the last blog post, I had to devote about 95% of my waking time to studying, working, or entertaining family members. I hope you understand.

Anyways, I just wanted to let you know that I'm back, and I will continue to post awesome life tips for all my followers. Hope every had a nice holiday!

Here's an easy life tip for the New Year:
LEARN ABOUT THE WORLD AROUND YOU

It's easy. Play this game and reach at least level 5 - http://www.kongregate.com/games/crafics/globetrotter-xl
It teaches you about world geography. As an international relations major, I'm always disappointed in the geographic awareness of those around me. Improve your geographic IQ; improve the world.

I've made friends with a number of international students simply because I knew what the capital of their country was, or any silly fact about the region they come from. The problem is that they're so used to hearing "Kuala Lumpur, what's that?" when they tell people where they're from. It's refreshing to hear something different.

P.S. My google adsense cheque came in the mail yesterday. I'm pumped! Thanks for the support everybody. I couldn't have earned that chedda without you.