Don’t Feed the Alligators

A Personal Finance Blog from a Small-Scale Landlord’s Perspective

Archive for the 'Administration' Category

Pregnant Silhouette

Creative Commons License photo figure credit: mahalie

ScrapperMom and I are happy to announce that we are expecting our second child in January.  We feel thrilled, scared, excited, and many other emotions all at once.  I wanted to bring this up in an official post on the subject since I plan to explore how this will affect our finances in some future posts.  The topic will likely also slip into a number of other posts, so I wanted to be very clear about this.  It’s actually been difficult not mentioning it all over the last few months. S/he will be just about two years behind big sister, and we’re not going to find out whether we’re having a boy or a girl, just like last time.

Now that we got that out of the way, I wanted to say a few words about the State of the Blog.

I started Don’t Feed the Alligators just over 6 months ago.  At the end of the first week, I had 17 subscribers and now am up to 74.  While I wish I had more, I am exceedingly thrilled that there are that many people out there interested in what I have to say on a semi-weekly basis.  I know my mother-in-law enjoys reading because as she puts it, “I learn more about the two of you by reading what (MITBeta) writes than any other way…”

Here are some more numbers:

  • ScrapperMom and I have combined to write a total of 71 articles
  • We have 10 articles pending in some stage of draft
  • We’ve created 34 different sorting categories
  • There are nearly 500 keywords
  • There have been 1,137 SPAM comments (blocked by Akismet)

In the last 30 days, the top referring domains have been (in order):

Thanks to all of my blogging peers for the traffic.  Be sure to check out those sites for some great articles.

The real question in all of this, however, is, “So what?”  The “So What” is you, the reader.  While there would certainly be some therapeutic value in writing what we do without an audience, there’s no way we would have kept it up for so long.  I recognize that I am here to provide you with information, entertainment, a new point of view, or whatever, and it is with this in mind that I once again ask the question:

How are we doing?

Are the posts too long or too short?  Are the articles too in-depth or not in-depth enough?  Am I glossing over too many of the basics or is the information here no different than what can be had elsewhere?  How’s the frequency of posting?  Are there specific topics you’d like to discuss or see addressed?

It’s easy to tell when a post is good, since it usually generates a lot of Comments, but most posts still go uncommented.  I like to have the feedback, good or bad, as well as any additions or counterpoints.  So let me know what kind of a job we’re doing here at Don’t Feed the Alligators, and if you really enjoy the content, don’t hesitate to share it with your friends, family, and coworkers.

This past weekend I attended a party given by friends of ours who are also subscribers and met a young woman who upon being introduced asked, “You’re the Alligators guy, right?”  “Yes,” I replied.  “I love reading your stuff,” she said (my emphasis added ;P).  I really didn’t know what to say at the time — I’ve never been good at receiving compliments.  But I know what to say now:

Thank you!

Without you and readers like you, this blog would long ago have been relegated to the cache archive at Google.

08.17.2008
Eiffel Tower

Creative Commons License photo figure credit: papalars

Congratulations to Catherine who is the winner of the Baby Signs, Inc. Potty Training Made Easy with the Baby Signs Program kit. Catherine: check your email for a message from me.

There were 15 entrants, and I added entrants to a Google Docs Spreadsheet in the order they were received.  Entrant 1 was in row 1, entrant 2 in row two, etc.  After the deadline passed on Friday night, I visited Random.org and used the random sequence generator to order the list randomly.  The winning number was 5, which represented the 5th entry in the list.

Thanks to everyone who participated, and welcome to many new readers.  I hope you find enough interesting articles and discussions here to stick around. Look for a new full post tomorrow.

PS: I highly encourage you to click on the photo credit on the left. There are some truly amazing, beautiful, gorgeous photos to be seen…

07.20.2008
AT&T Tilt

Creative Commons License photo figure credit: galaygobi

In the time-is-money category, I have discovered that Google Reader works quite nicely on my mobile phone. After going away for 4 days in June, I found that I was very far behind on my RSS feeds from other blogs. I tried the reader on my phone and sure enough it works great.  Now when I’m taking the dogs out, waiting in line, waiting for this or that, I can fire up Google Reader Mobile and catch up on my feeds.

With that in mind, you may notice that I have installed a few new plug-ins here at Don’t Feed the Alligators.

  • The first new plug-in is one that renders the blog into a format suitable for mobile devices.  This plug-in should even automatically detect that you are using a mobile device and render the articles appropriately.
  • I have also added a “Related Links” section to the bottom of each article so that if you like what you read, you can see what else I have written that’s similar.
  • Lastly, I have added a plug-in that prevents links that I put into my articles that point to other articles that I have written from creating trackbacks.  This has mostly an administrative use, but prevents it from looking like my blog has lots of comments when mostly it has very few (hint, hint…).

Here’s a sampling of some of the other articles and conversations that I have enjoyed over the last couple of weeks:

  • Nickel exposes the safest online banks.  Clearly this list is not all inclusive since the bank we use, EverBank, is not in this list, but is an online bank and scores a solid 3.  But the point here is to make your way over to Bankrate.com (again…) and check out the rating for your bank.  This was how I found out that my former bank, NetBank, was about to fail.
  • Nickel also makes an excellent point about making sure to keep up with maintenance items before they end up costing you even more.
  • Jeremy writes about the fears that many investors have when the market goes into a slump.  He cautions about keeping things in perspective and making sure that you don’t miss the inevitable upswing.  I personally like to watch the growth in the number of shares that I own, rather than their worth, because the worth of a stock only matters when you sell it.
  • JD has a great article on the difference between a career and a job.  I bounced through a string of seemingly disconnected “jobs” early in my “career” and then hit on my current job which relies a great deal on the skills that I acquired collectively at each of those disconnected jobs.
  • JD also writes about the reasons to invest in index funds.  This is not an uncommon topic in Personal Finance Blog circles, but certainly bears repeating again.
"Some people complain that an index fund dooms you to mediocre
investment returns. “Absolutely not,” Bernstein replies. “It virtually
guarantees you superior performance. Over the typical ten-year period,
most money managers would kill for index-matching returns.”"
  • Lastly, Madison posts her reply to a request from a friend to figure out how to get out of debt.  See the top 7 answers from her readers here.

Hope you had a nice weekend!

04.14.2008

I participated in my first blog carnival this week at the Carnival of Personal Finance. I submitted my article about the parallels between losing weight and growing wealth. You can see it and all the other great articles at this week’s host Gather Little By Little. This week I also joined the conversation on a number of topics at other blogs. Some of the blogs that mentioned me or in which I participated were:

  • Lynnae at BeingFrugal.net solicited the best financial advice that her readers had ever received. My words of wisdom were 1.Pay yourself first and 2. Anything you can measure can be improved.
  • Glblguy at GatherLittleByLittle.com wondered why he still has to carry cash. I don’t usually carry much cash, and it tends to sit in my wallet for a long time. In the comments I shared my strategy for using my rewards credit card for everything I can.
  • Frugal Dad at FrugalDad.com wondered whether it was cost effective to buy a new car for the explicit purpose of saving on gas mileage. I suggested that for people who continually carry loans, the cost of gas is minor compared to the other operational costs of a car.

Another article that caught my eye today comes from the Boston Globe’s Personal Finance Section which reported on a new study being conducted at my alma mater which will “explore how people make decisions about their money, and how technology can shape and assist in these choices.” This study is part of a new Center for Future Banking that seeks to understand how changes in technology will affect banking. This study will explore many of the questions that fascinate my about the social psychology of money decisions. It is a bit dubious, however, that Bank of America is providing the financing for the study… Lastly, I made some updates to my Blogroll at the right this week. Check out some of my fellow bloggers sites if you haven’t already. b

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Thursday marked one month of Don’t Feed the Alligators. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, my readers, for your attention and comments, both online and off. Ultimately it is you that makes this blog what it is, so with that in mind, I would like to ask for your help, comments, and suggestions to the following administrative issues:

Schedule: To date, I have been trying to publish an article approximately every 3 days. I originally decided on this schedule for two reasons: 1. I thought it should be relatively easy to write one article every 3 days, and 2. I didn’t want to exhaust my relatively short list of ideas too quickly.

On Point 1: I was traveling for many days this month, and found this pace difficult to keep up. I have resorted to writing opportunistically and then publishing when appropriate (I am writing this on Sunday…). I also found help in the form of a guest blogger, who already has many great ideas for future articles. I am reasonably sure that I can manage to keep churning out 2 articles per week.

On Point 2: My list of ideas is now growing much faster than I can actually write and publish articles, so this is not going to be an issue until well past October at my current pace.

Question Series 1 for my readers:

Are you happy with the current pace? Would you rather see articles published when they are finished rather than on an arbitrary timeline — even if that could mean that you don’t see a new article for 5 days?

Content and Comments: Nearly half of the articles that I have written so far have been inspired from reader questions. This certainly helps me to stretch out the long list of topics that I have in mind already. I am hoping that more people will become involved in the comments section, however. Good feedback is ultimately going to be essential to the future content, style, and quality of articles here.

I hope that am helping some of you to get your financial houses in order, but I have a couple of articles brewing that will ask you to help me with some advice for optimizing what I’m doing with my own financial house.

Question Series 2 for my readers:

Are you happy with the content of the articles here at DFTA? If not, how can I improve? Is there a specific topic that you would like to see and discuss? If yes, what is it that I’m doing well? How can I promote more discussion in the comments section?

Subscribers: After the initial rise in subscribers at the beginning of last month, subscriptions have remained rather flat. Curiously, nearly every day I lose a subscriber only to gain a new one. Here is where I would like your help. If you have enjoyed reading Don’t Feed the Alligators, please consider subscribing. If you are already a subscriber, please consider sharing a link to this blog with you friends, family, and coworkers. The more eyes reading the articles here, the more likelyhood of some good discussions in the comments sections and therefore the better the information that you will have in the end.

Thanks again for your readership and support. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

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