Every Friday afternoon I share some of the more interesting or notable posts that I have seen in the personal finance blogs and other sources for the past week
DoughRoller asks Can You Really Make Money Taking Online Surveys?
May 24, 2013
This is a guest post from Amber Satka who writes on financial topics, such as her look into leasing vs buying. Amber is a former office manager and current mother and writer.
There are many opportunities for you to work online or start a business online so you can create passive income or build your wealth and achieve financial independence. However, for all the legitimate opportunities there are to make money online, there are an equal amount of scams -- if not more.
There are thousands of websites offering you the secret to online riches -- but they end up being nothing more than promises. Sure, somebody may be getting rich, but it won't be you. (It will be the person running the site.) Here are a few tips for how you can recognize these online scams so you don't waste your money chasing pipe dreams:
There Is No Contact Information
Anyone can create a free e-mail address. A legitimate company should have a phone number and a physical address listed on their site. You should be able to call this number and reach a real person -- not just a machine with a voicemail.
They Ask for Money Upfront
Most online scams promise you the secret to how to make millions, but before they give it to you, they ask you to pay large amounts of money for a course, a kit, a list, or some other information or equipment. You may think this is a small price to pay for the millions you are guaranteed to make. However, this is typically a sign that you're dealing with a scam.
In most cases, the person is making money selling this information to you -- not by implementing the program you are being sold. In order to make money yourself, you may find that you need to do the same thing.
They Put a Deadline on the Offer
Scammers prey on your desperation. They promise you the world, and if that's not enough, they tell you that the secret to how to make your riches will only be available for a limited time so you must ACT NOW. This is just a tactic to get you to spend your money. There is no other reason why the information would not be available next week the same as it is this week.
They Have Bad Reviews
There isn't much place to hide on the Internet. That means that if people try the program offered and it doesn't live up to its promises, there will be people online sharing their negative experiences. Search for reviews of the program, and check specifically in forums for online income opportunities and scams. Many scammers will create fake reviews, so it is important to look for information on reputable sites or on sites that specialize in reviewing scams.
Evaluating scams doesn't require a lot of tricks -- just a little common sense. Ask yourself: What's in it for them? How are they making their money? When you start digging with these questions in mind, you can understand the system very quickly and learn that it's primarily a scam to make money, rather than offering you valuable information that will help you to find your financial freedom.
What online scams have you encountered in your quest to find money-making opportunities online?
May 22, 2013
Recently the Planet Money blog wrote asking Millions Of Americans Are Leaving The Workforce. Why? its a good question. If you read their article you can see they split out the workforce by age groups. First they break out the people over 55 years old. Labor force participation for older Americans is actually increasing and its up since the recession. Lets presume baby boomers failed to save adequately for retirement or lost a large % of their retirement savings and are 'forced' to work longer. At the other end, they look at the younger group from ages 16 to 24. That group is working less but they chalk that up to more and more and more of us going to college and not joining the workforce right away. That sounds credible. Then they end with the rest of the labor focusing on the group ages 25-54. Lets look at that group...
Take a look at the following two graphs:
Both of those are taken from the BLS.gov site. Look at the overall trend for both of them. First in the top graph you can see that the numbers basically flattened out around 1999 and have been in a slightly downward trend since then. In the second graphic you can see a pretty steep descent the entire time with some marginal bouncing around.
Lets plot the graphics again and show a trend line over time.
The trend line on the first group is pretty obvious there. The blue line deviates some from the long term trend but not too much. What the red line is doing in the second graphic is a bit less clear. The overall trend is upwards but it looks like it may have peaked around 1999 and may be trending downwards since then. Lets look again at the red line with a polynomial trend line:
This shows more 'hill' where the peak has been passed. The red line is on a downward trend from 1999 onwards. In fact for the past decade or so the red line has been in a similar trajectory to the blue line.
Lastly lets compare both lines from the period from 1999 to 2013:
Well there you go. Now looking at the past 14 years we can see that both lines are quite similar in the trend. They are both down about 3 points over the period and they flow roughly the same fluctuating pattern.
If you haven't figured it out yet, the red line is for women and the blue line is for men.
I'm showing just ages 25-54 to filter out the impact from young people in college and older people transitioning into retirement. I'd call ages 25-54 the 'prime' labor years.
Looking at the longer period from 1984 to 2013 we can see that the labor participation rate for men is down about 5% and the rate for women is up about 6%.
If we break it into different periods before and after 1999 we see different trends. From 1984 to 1999 the labor rates of men and women were going in opposite directions. We had more women working and fewer men. Then starting in 1999 the labor participation rate of both men and women started to decline at a similar rate. Or looking at it another way you could say that women joined men in leaving the workforce.
May 21, 2013
My generation is the first generation in my family to really go to college. We've had mixed levels of success.
In my parents generation only one person went to college. My mother got a two year degree from a bible college. My mother was mostly a stay at home mom but she did work later when my sister and I left the nest. I'm not sure if that degree helped my mom in her jobs or not. Nobody on my fathers side went to college at all so my mother was the lone exception.
In my generation myself and four others went to college. Here's our history with college success or non-success (I won't label them with names, but just refer to them by numbers) :
#1. Did not do well in high school and did not go to college. = high school diploma
#2. Went to college on a merit scholarship for maybe a year but she did not apply herself and then dropped out. = maybe 1/2 to 1 year of college
#3. Went to college full or part time over one or three years and eventually dropped out to work full time and get married. = probably 2-3 years of college
#4. Obtained a professional degree in the health care field and has had a good job ever since then = professional degree
#5. Got a bachelors in a very competitive field and then realized there were zero job opportunities out there and then later got a masters. She is marginally self employed in her field. = graduate degree
#6 Then for myself, I have two bachelors degrees in STEM majors and I'm employed with a good job. = bachelors degree
5 out of 6 of us went to college.
Among the 5 who did go to college :
2 out of 5 who went to college dropped out
2 out of 5 of us who went to college benefited with good paying jobs
1 out of 5 went to grad school but hasn't substantially benefited financially from college
Thats not a very good track record.
HALF of my generation in my family made a financial mistake in going to college and either dropping out or picking a major with far too much competition and too few jobs.
Of course this is just a very small group of six people and its entirely anecdotal. However I think the experience of my family is relatively common.
What lessons are there here?
First for #5 they did not pick a good major. They ended up in college for around 6 years total and are not making a great income after the fact. Overall college has not helped them financially and they'd have been better off picking a career that didn't require college or a trade that only requires a two year degree.
The #2 example was someone who simply screwed around too much and did not apply themselves. I'm not sure what the lesson to learn from there is other than don't screw around too much in college.
For #3, I'm not sure what the solution there was either. I think the solution may have been not to go to college in the first place. It was not however that they weren't qualified, but it just didn't work out for them due to a combination of factors. Sometimes things just don't work out as you planned them.
Of course anecdotal data like this doesn't really mean all that much. But I think theres good examples of how college may be a poor choice. Whether you're not mature enough to work hard, or if you pick a bad major choice or if life simply takes you another direction. WE also have examples of where college has been a great choice for myself and one other. WE obtained high demand degrees and have had gainful employment with good incomes ever since.