How to Raise Money Instead of Debt

IMG_6213Whatever the reason, no matter what political policies or economic currents caused it, many people who fall into the Middle Class live paycheck to paycheck, one crisis away from massive, high interest debt that will take years to pay off. Whether from decisions we make, or circumstances beyond our control, money problems plague the Middle Class. It can be frustrating to work hard and still have nothing left after you pay your bills.

Sometimes an expense pops up that is outside your monthly plan. You want to go an a trip. Or maybe you need to build up that $1000 emergency fund again. Or need to buy new school clothes. Or anything that is outside the normal monthly expense of making ends meet. Don’t put it on your credit card! There are other ways.

How can you raise money instead of increasing your debt?

Increase your cash coming in, Reduce cash going out.

  • Find extra money in the budget. If you don’t have one, make a written budget. In one column write down all the money that comes in for a month. In  another column write down every monthly expense. Are you spending more money than you earn? What are you spending it on? Make some hard choices. Do you need that big data plan on your phone? Do you need the whole cable package? Do you need Netflix and Hulu and Amazon Prime streaming? Do your kids need an allowance that large? Hey, this is a team effort, and letting your kids contribute will teach important lessons about handling money. Is it time to consolidate those high interest credit cards?
  • Rework your W4 form. Do you get a big return on your income taxes every year? You don’t have to wait to get that money. Talk with your HR person at work, and add some allowances on your W4 form. It’s nice to get a big check from the IRS, almost like a savings account, but you need that money now.
  • Get an extra job. Find a way to work from home on the evenings. Deliver pizza. Pick up an overnight shift or two in retail somewhere. Pick up a freelance gig. These jobs don’t pay much, but they do provide some extra income when you need it.
  • Downsize. Want to get radical? Trade in your nice, fancy car for an older, reliable model. Get something you can buy outright or at least reduce the monthly payment and insurance on. Consider selling your house. It’s no fun to be house-poor. Is it possible to sell your current home and buy a house that costs less while meeting your needs? Imagine not having a monthly car payment, or having a rent or mortgage payment that is hundreds less than what you pay now.

Sell Stuff.

  • Yard sale! People buy a lot of weird stuff at yard sales. And you probably have some things laying around that you never use anymore. Pull out your furniture, old electronics, clothing, home decor and anything else that might have value. See if you need a permit for a sale in your area. Put an ad on craigslist, tell people on social media, and sell your unwanted stuff. You can easily make a couple hundred dollars for a couple of days work. And you free up storage space in your house. This is not the time to sell collectibles. It’s the time to price unwanted items at low prices to get them sold, and get more money in your hands.
  • Sell books and movies and music and video games. Whether in person or online, you can often sell old media. We have a store in our town called Hastings, and they will buy most kinds. They don’t give a lot for it, but they do give cash for books, music, movies and video games you don’t want. If you haven’t watched a movie for over a year, consider selling it. Go through all of your books and music. Get rid of what you don’t need.
  • Pawn Shops. Never pawn anything at a pawn shop. Just sell it outright. Expect to get 20-40% of what the item would sell for used-condition retail. If you have extra tools, electronics, cameras, yard machines, bicycles, etc… you can sell those to your local pawn shop. Clean out your storage and sell what you’re not using anymore.
  • Collectibles. Find the right place to sell them. Yard sales are not the place to sell collectibles. In our last yard sale my daughter wanted to sell a well-worn American Girl doll. She priced it at $15. No one looked at it. The next week we sold it on eBay for $27. Same yard sale had a set of baskets that no one would buy, but later sold for $50 on eBay. Auctions, online communities, Craigslist, eBay; all of these may be a good place to sell off collectible items. Remember, with collectibles, most are only worth what people will pay for them. You can buy any beanie baby in the world for about a buck today. There are some coins that are only worth the price of the materials in them. But my son once got a quarter back in change from a store that he sold for $15. I once had a collection of G.I. Joe toys that books said was worth over $1000, but I was only able to sell for $289. When you’re raising money, it may be time to cash in on your collection.
  • eBay. It’s an amazing website that puts you in touch with buyers from all over. You can sell just about anything. You can research the price of an item, and purchase shipping at a discounted rate. They take 10% of the final sales price and shipping costs. Then Paypal, which is the way you transfer money with eBay, takes 3%. So that $50 item you sold netted you $43.50. And depending on how you listed it, you may have to pay shipping out of that. That’s more money than it made sitting in your closet, but be aware of the fees. Always consider how you will ship the item before you list it. Will you need to buy shipping boxes and materials? It is worth the hassle? I normally don’t sell anything worth less than $10, including shipping. If you aren’t careful you could find yourself clearing under $5 for your item. That’s not much, unless you are doing a lot of volume. One caveat, eBay and Paypal ALWAYS side with the buyer initially, and the burden of proof is on the seller if there is a dispute. Describe your item accurately, ship promptly and safely, and always track the package.

And there are lots of other ways to earn cash.

My family and I are taking a trip soon. We estimated that it would cost about $400 in gas and food. And we didn’t have that sitting around. So we started raising it. We made a couple hundred at yard sale. We sold a ton of books and movies. We sold some electronics and collectibles on eBay. Within a couple of weeks we had raised $430 for our trip. Plus after working through or budget again and adjusting my W4, we will have more income with less bills going forward so we can save more for things like this.


The Cart That Got Away: Latest Mobberly Short Film Project is a Choose Your Own Path Mystery

Every year Mobberly has a banquet for the volunteers who serve on Sunday mornings. For the past few years the media team has done a video project as a part of the program. This year we kind of went a little big… It’s a choose-your-own-adventure-mystery. At the end of each video segment the folks in attendance vote to see which people to investigate.

We posted the videos so you can see who took… “The Cart That Got Away”.

It’s also my acting debut in a film. I’ve only ever been on the other side of the camera, never had an actual role in a project. There are a few inside jokes, but hopefully you can still enjoy it.

Help! Some Company Called AdRev has a Copyright Claim on My YouTube Video! – How to Remove AdRev Claims

First, don’t panic. It’s not that big of a deal. It’s annoying, but your video is still viewable. But now there are ads on it, and that money goes to whoever owns the copyright (through AdRev) instead of you.

Now, I know you already have a license to use this music track in your video. Because you wouldn’t, ever use a song you don’t have permission for, right? If you are not sure about what I’m saying, do a search on how to legally use music in videos. This music is someone intellectual property. You should not use it without permission.

Since you have the license to use this music in your video, let’s get about the business of removing this copyright claim. And make no mistake, it is a business. It might feel personal, and you might want to rip off someone’s head and scream down their throat, but that won’t get the claim removed any quicker.

How did they pick your video?

They didn’t click through your Youtube channel and listen to every song. Companies like this use computers to scan the audio in the millions and millions of Youtube videos. if the computer hears part of a song in it’s catalog, it automatically places a claim on your video.

They do not send an email asking if you have a license to use it. this company uses Youtube’s own policies and that of the Digital millennium Copyright Act to pad their pockets. What that basically means is that when they identify a music track that they manage, they place a claim automatically. And you, and the person accused of infringing on the copyright of the music must prove that you have a license to use it. It’s guilty until proven innocent. Youtube is afraid of being known as a place where pirated music lives freely, so they, in my opinion, go too far with regard to copyright claims.

Youtube always sides with the person or company making the copyright claim. If you use the Youtube dispute option, it can take 30 days for things to be resolved. For a month AdRev will collect any money made from people viewing the video. Money that should be going to you. Money that they will pass on to the copyright owner, after they take their cut. For most of us, that’s a few pennies we lose. For a company that manages millions of songs, that adds up to real money. It’s not right, but that’s how AdRev stays in business.

How to dispute the claim quickly.

Luckily, AdRev is a company that does this all the time, so they already have a mechanism in place to resolve their mistake.

First, log into your youtube channel and copy the URL for the video. Copy the long one from your browser, not the short one from the “share” tab.

Then go to AdRev’s website. Scroll down to the bottom, and click on the “Claimed Video?” link at the bottom.

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 8.40.49 AM

That takes you to a form.Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 8.41.00 AM

Here is where you enter your information, and paste that URL to the video with the claim on it.

In your message, tell them that you have a license to use the video. You will need to explain where you got the music and license, and then ask them to release the claim.

The level of detail you need to use may vary. The first time I got a claim I gave them date and time of when and where I purchased the music library which had the track in it, and included a link to the license agreement for using the track. In other claim disputes I simply said where and when I bought the music.

Once I simply said I had a license without giving details and they asked for more information. So you need to give them something that shows you have the right to use the music. At the very least you need to identify where the music comes from. For instance, I have had tracks from Killer Tracks libraries claimed, and when I identified the source as Killer Tracks and said when we had the license to use the music, the claim was released. Each interaction may vary, since a real person is doing the review.

In the past 4 months I’ve had at least 11 claims from AdRev on music that I have licenses to use. It’s bordering on harassment. But each time I have gone to their website, disputed the claim and had it removed.

The most troubling part of this whole thing is that sometimes people use AdRev to make copyright claims for music they do not actually own. For instance, 5 of my claims have been for tracks from Digital Juice libraries. A man in Slovenia hired AdRev and listed some music tracks that Digital juice created as his own content. Digital Juice does not employ AdRev in anyway. I used one song as the bed for a promo for my show Peculiar. That one song has been tagged 3 times. Every time I have to go to AdRev and tell them that this is not owned by that guy, but is in fact owned by Digital Juice, and I have a license.

So, AdRev knows that there is a disagreement about who owns what with regard to these tracks, because I, at least, have told them every time. But they still have that song in their tracking catalog and still claim it for the guy. And they still get their own cut from each view of the claimed video.

Bad business, all around. It’s annoying. But normally it’s easily settled. Often the claim is released the same day you dispute it with AdRev.

What about songs I made in Garage Band?

I know this happens sometimes. It has happened to me. Garage Band is a fun program that comes with loops that you can use in your own musical projects. Sometimes people use those loops to create a song, and then want to protect their work. Sometimes Youtube or a company like AdRev will scan your video, hear the same loop that is part of their own client’s song, and make a claim. These can be harder to dispute. if this happens, explain that the music in question contains loops from Garage Band, and that the Content ID system has erroneously identified a part of your own work as belonging to the other person. The hope you get a reasonable person to review the dispute. When it happened to me, the dispute was released within a couple of days.

What issues have you had with copyright on Youtube?

9/11 The Names

It’s been 14 years.

Audio is from a speech President Bush made a few days after, on September 14, 2001. The flag is waving through everyone of the names of those who died on September 11, 2001.

I was working the early shift in the stockroom at Hickory Hollow Target in Nashville. We came up to the break room for “lunch” right as the first plane hit. We watched the 2nd one a few minutes later on a little 13″ TV. We were told that if anyone wanted to go on home, they could. I stayed. It was an eerie, quiet day. Almost no one in the store. We turned one of the TV’s in electronics to a local news station. People were just staring in unbelief.



Media Bias in the News: Planned Parenthood, Center for Medical Progress, and Awards

Over the weekend we saw several stories about how Planned Parenthood had hired a firm to do a “forensic” study of a few of the Center for Medical Progress undercover videos. The national media, who had been mostly mute about the subject, suddenly found it newsworthy. I wrote about that on my political blog. Many national news organizations couldn’t wait to trumpet misleading headlines like, “Sting videos of Planned Parenthood were totally manipulated, forensic analysis finds.”

If anyone bothered to read the 10 page report, they could plainly see that headline (just one of many) was a serious overstatement, and implied a level of deceitfulness that was not proven in the report.

Center for Medical Progress released a detailed response. In it they highlighted the fact that even a partisan firm like Fusion GPS (who did the analysis) admitted:

This analysis did not reveal widespread evidence of substantive video manipulation” and that it “shows no evidence of audio manipulation.

And CMP went on to explain every issue the firm found in every video. You can read both sides of the story and form your own opinion.

But you will really have to search for this response by CMP.  Because it’s not on any major news sites.

Even though the news media reported on the Planned Parenthood analysis, they haven’t mention this response. Just like they didn’t report on the largest coordinated protest of Planned Parenthood facilities a few weekends ago. Hundreds of cities, thousands of people, barely made local news reports.If you’re keeping score at home: For most major news organizations, the videos from CMP are not newsworthy. An analysis done by the organization being investigated is newsworthy, a response from the group doing the investigating is not newsworthy.

I’m not the first to point out the blatant bias in the news for Planned Parenthood and against any who criticize them. Sean Davis at the wrote a piece about it. Did you know that Planned Parenthood gives out awards for media excellence? Did you know that Journalists not only accept awards from an organization they report on (or should report on) but say they are honored to get them? In all 16 journalists received Maggie Awards for Media Excellence. These awards were started in the late 1970’s to “recognize exceptional contributions by the media and arts and entertainment industries that enhance the public’s understanding of reproductive rights and health care issues, including contraception, sex education, teen pregnancy, abortion, and international family planning.”

Does that strike you as odd?

Imagine a political party giving out awards for Media Excellence. Awards that recognize exceptional contributions by the media and arts and entertainment industries that enhance the public’s understanding of this political parties stance on issues and work in the community.  Would any self respecting journalist accept one?

It’s not a journalists job to help any organization enhance the public’s understanding on anything. They don’t report news in order to help an organization, they report news so that the public is aware of what it should be aware of. News media should report what is in the public interest, not an organization’s interest. What objective journalist would want any organization to even imply that they might have been trying to help an organization instead of fairly reporting things that are newsworthy?

But, then I forget that objective journalism in the USA is dead.