Author Archives: Aloysa

Should You Write Guest Posts? I Don’t Know, Should You? (Yes!)

Josh Hanagarne is the creator of World’s Strongest Librarian. He was recently offered a book deal (which he turned down), and loves to talk about books, blogging, strength training, and more. He has also found a way to cure his own extreme case of Tourette’s Syndrome.

When I started blogging I never planned on anyone reading what I wrote. Now that they do, I still don’t really plan on anyone reading what I write. Why? Because I write for fun. I write because it’s a healthy thing for me to do. Don’t get me wrong, I like having readers, and more readers is more fun than fewer readers. But before we get into the guest posting discussion, I just want that to be clear: I’d be doing the exact same thing whether I had zero readers or one million.

Whether I am at work or I am just out and about, living my life, I try to view everything as a game. This keeps it fun. One of the most frequent questions I get is “What motivates you to write so much?” Simple: the fear of boredom and the love of creating something that wasn’t here before me. The money doesn’t hurt either, what little of it there is.

I have one question for you:

Do you want more readers?

Then “why do you blog?” question isn’t even important for this discussion. If you want more readers, whether it’s for the potential fame, the money, the clicks on your ads, your affiliate sales, or because you can’t stand the thought of looking at your boss for one more day than you absolutely have to, you should guest post. You should spend time writing in other places. I’m not going to give you an absolute ratio, because there isn’t one, but I would personally suggest that the majority of the content you write goes on other sites, not your own.

It’s simple: if you want more traffic, you have to get more eyes on your work. The Internet is a big spastic screaming match where everyone is howling for attention. Your chances of getting found by new readers plummet drastically if you don’t venture out beyond home(page).

My first big guest post was for Problogger when World’s Strongest Librarian was about two months old, I think. I treated it like a game. I made a list of blogs that I had no business appearing on, based on their subject matter and size/authority, and I tried to figure out how to sneak onto them. Just as an experiment. I had no idea what would happen.

Well, what happened was that I got more traffic in the next three or four days than I ever had. A tiny fraction of it stuck. Most of it didn’t. At the time I knew nothing about SEO or the value of a link. It didn’t matter to me that a high ranking blog had just linked to my own.

So after I crossed Problogger off the list I made it onto Copyblogger and Men With Pens.

These produced similar results. Big, ephemeral traffic spikes, big links, a bump in RSS readers, and then back to business as usual, a little stronger than before.

You’ll hear this whole thing talked about in two ways, by two types of bloggers going through what look like very different paths.

People who are chasing “authority” and people who simply chase links.

The authority blog

I’ll use Problogger and Copyblogger as my examples again. These are authority sites based on their age, the amount of content they have, and the amount of links that are pointing to their sites. Regardless of any chirping I hear about “social” blogging or whatever we’re currently calling it, authority, in my opinion, still comes down to links.

Sure, the traffic might largely spread through social sources, but the real horsepower that ultimately results in passive income comes from the amount of links the blogs generate. The more links you have pointing at you, the more likely you are to be found by searchers.

By most metrics, I also have an authority blog (PR5, 60,000+ links according to Google Webmaster Tools, etc). The core of my readership fluctuates slightly and has held relatively steady for the last two years. My search traffic has gone up steadily and now accounts for the majority of my traffic. That’s because of the links. There are different values of links which are beyond the scope of this post, but the most simple guideline I can give is this question:

Could anyone get this link?

Along those lines, if you tweet one of your own posts, that link is not going to be worth as much as a link from a University’s website. How many bloggers could swing that anyways? (My hand is raised, but I am a crafty devil. Just kidding, it was pure luck).

Now back to guest posting

Let’s forget about semantics. Whether you believe you are chasing Authority or you are chasing links, they lead to the same thing: more traffic. More social traffic, more search traffic, just more. Now, whether you know how to do anything with that traffic is another subject, but if you just want more, you have to be seen.

Guest blogging or link chasing, it just comes down to more eyes on your work. Think of it however is most comfortable for you.

I’ve learned most of this stuff in hindsight. Now that I look at my results, I can tell why I have the stats I do. Lots of links and lots of word of mouth. It all started with appearing in other places.

I’d like you to try an experiment so you can gauge this for yourself. Come write a guest post for me. I get free content, you get a link from an authority blog and more eyes on your work. I’m always looking for book reviews. You can contact me here.

Then you can evaluate and see what you think about the guest posting process. This has been the gospel according to some guy who happens to have a blog that works well. Always run your own experiments and question what you hear.

And if you’re a spammer spewing out crap solely for links, I will know it. Then I’ll print your guest post out and jab it with a pointy stick.

But if you’re good, please consider this an open invitation. And if I sound like I think I know everything, keep this in mind: I only do this because it’s fun. When it’s not fun, I’ll do something else.

PS: Once I got going with guest writing, I was having so much fun it got kind of stupid. Here is the guest post I wrote for Copyblogger after a guest posting marathon.

Confessions Of A Bad Tipper

This post was featured in Totally Money Blog Carnival #2!


I am a horrible tipper. Also I should admit I can be a terrible customer. When I know that I am supposed to tip, my expectations as a consumer raise exponentially. If the service does not live up to my high expectations, I don’t tip.This drives Beaker crazy. He worked in the food service industry for ten years and he knows first hand those cheap and demanding customers like me. He dreaded them back then. He dreads me signing the bill at a restaurant now. So, I never get to sign a check when we go out.


Tips in the Soviet Union in general were ideologically incorrect. There were no official tipping practices. You took a cab ride, you paid what the meter showed. You got a haircut, you paid what the price of that haircut was. You ate in a restaurant, you paid what was on your bill (after you added up the bill yourself to make sure you were not overcharged – overcharging was a common practice.)

Waiters and waitresses in the Soviet Union were the best-off people with never ending supply of food because they had access to free provisions in the restaurant they worked for. Interestingly enough this profession was dominated by men.

It all made sense back then – why would servers need a tip when they were so much better off than some of those people who found themselves (mostly either attending birthday parties or weddings) at a restaurant? Most of the working class people could not afford to eat in restaurants anyway. Moreover it would never occur to them to tip a server.

Current Day

Correct me if I am wrong but in the US tips are paid because restaurants continue to underpay its staff. So, to compensate for this, we, customers, tip waiters/waitresses for their service to make sure they make a living.

Do we tip only because people don’t get paid enough? Would we tip if they’d get paid as much as, let’s say, $25/hour?

Whenever I get poor service in a restaurant I am inclined to skip on tipping. Beaker, however, taught me to tip at least a 15% of the bill if the service was bad. I don’t understand why I should tip for bad service quite yet. But I know that no tipping , even when the service did not live up to my expectations, is considered mean and rude. I’ve been told so by my friends and by my husband.

Trying to understand the practice of tipping for bad service, I asked people why they tip at restaurants when their experience was less than pleasant and enjoyable, and more annoying and frustrating. This is what I heard:

– “Because I don’t want to look cheap”;

– “Because I don’t want to feel guilty”;

– “Because I don’t want to upset the waiter, especially if I am planning to come back to the restaurant.” (I guess a “spitting into your food” factor plants fear into our minds)

Does it all mean that tipping for bad service has nothing to do with underpaid and overworked service workers? I think it all has to do with our human emotions and our image in the eyes of our family and friends. Don’t forget our reputation in the eyes of waiters and waitresses. Finally, and most importantly, it is all about how good we want to feel about ourselves.


Even though I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, this year I promised myself to accept and embrace tipping for bad services in restaurants.

Servers depend a lot on their customers to make a living. It is not their fault that they are underpaid, overworked and sometimes over abused by demanding, mean and rude customers like me.

Well, I am not too bad. According to Beaker there are worse.

Aloysa’s Reading Picks

2011 is  here… Can you believe it? This post is short but it is still here… Enjoy!

Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card @Life and My Finances;

Financial Lessons I learned from Alice in Wonderland @MomVesting;

Best Of MoneyCone 2010 And One Last Roundup @Money Cone;

10 Lessons of 2010 @Wealth Informatics;

The Best of Financial Samurai @Financial Samurai;

Why I am Grateful For 2010 & Giveaway @Yes, I am Cheap;

10 Lessons Learned in 2010 @Everyday Tips and Thoughts.

2010 Year In Review

Somehow it is difficult to believe that today is the last day of 2010. Time seems to fly really fast lately. Even though I don’t set up goals, I still like to look back and see what I have achieved over the period of one year. Could I have achieved more if I’d set goals and specific measurements? I don’t know. But what I do know is that I don’t limit myself by goals. There is a certain feeling of freedom and of endless opportunities when there are no measurements set in stone.

More Writing, More Reading, Less TV Watching

I am very pleased with myself because this year I wrote so much more than usual. I wrote five chapters of the book and queried some agents (bad idea! exciting time!). The query of unfinished, unpolished, unwritten novel attracted the attention of a couple prominent agents. Nothing happened after that but I concluded that I can come up with some creative plots, ideas and characters, and, yes, I can write. Not very humble, I know, but hey, two agents wanted to see my chapters.

I wrote a short story and submitted it to more than twenty magazines. It never got published but it was great just to write a complete piece.

A Random Thought (Not A Resolution) for 2011: Keep writing (maybe an e-book this time) and reading!


In 2010 I started three blogs and closed them down. After a few blogging debacles, I finally found myself in my current blog. I joined the Yakezie challenge, met quite a few great bloggers and made some friends. My blogging direction emerged, and The Kitchen Sink became a lifestyle blog with emphasis on personal finance. I became a staff writer @Beating Broke. Do I consider all of this an accomplishment? Yes, I do.

The most popular posts of The Kitchen Sink in 2010 (according to the unique page views):

1. Five Reasons To Stop Being Frugal And Get A Life
2. Beware of Men Counting Pennies
3. How A Debtless Aloysa Became Buried in Debt
4. My Life Without Christmas
5. Seperate or Joint? Mine or Yours?

A Random Thought (Not A Resolution) for 2011: Keep blogging, keep supporting my blogger friends and the Yakezie network.

Paying Off Debt

We were able to pay off $13,000 of our debt. This is a huge success because my spending habits are not the best, and we still love to take trips and go on vacation. Could it have been better? Of course. Could it have been worse? Sure. What matters in the end, we did the best we could and paid off a good chunk of debt.

A Random Thought (Not A Resolution) for 2011: Keep paying!

Healthy Food Choices

This year we improved our food shopping habits significantly. In the past we used to run to the store right after work and decide then and there what we were going to eat that night. Now, we do grocery shopping once a week and come prepared. We go to the store with a list of groceries based on a menu that we come up for a week instead of just having a vague idea of what we are going to eat.

We cook more at home, we reduced the number of out take outs from three times a week to once a week. Huge improvement.

A Random Thought (Not A Resolution) for 2011: We do need to reduce our sugar intake, eat a little bit less red meat and a little bit more fish.

Curb Those Shopping Habits

My spending habits are not the best but I was able to keep them under control this year. Most of the time. J The results speak for themselves: paid off a good chunk of debt, saved up for vacation, stayed UNDER budget during Christmas consumerist frenzy. Could have done better but a certain long and simply gorgeous pair of boots threw me off balance. Oh well… we do live only once.

A Random Thought (Not A Resolution) for 2011: Shopping my own closet a little bit more can be very helpful in 2011.

Happy New Year Everyone! Let all you dreams, hopes and wishes come true. Let all your goals and resolutions be achieved. Salute!

Explore the World: China, First Impressions

In November 2009 Beaker and I traveled what seemed a million miles away to China.  One day I saw a trip being advertised on one of the travel websites and the price was incredible. It was $900 per person, and it included air tickets from San Francisco to Beijing, air from Beijing to Shanghai and back to San Francisco. The price also included hotels in both cities, airport transfers and daily breakfast. The dates were in late November which was all right with us. We consider off season the best time to travel: the prices are cheaper, you encounter less crowds and you are able to take advantage of travel opportunities.

When reading my new series of articles about China, please keep in mind that China has the most amazing contrastbetween modern and traditional, rural and new, communism and capitalism.

Air China
My pre-trip research told me that Air China is not a good airline to travel. People on the Internet complained about small leg space, tiny TVs that show movies in Chinese with English subtitles, horrible, smelly food and not enough place for the overhead luggage.

When we boarded the Air China plane in San Francisco, we were prepared for the worst. What we experienced was not bad at all. Our luggage fit in a overheard compartment just fine. The leg room was decent. Beaker is over six feet tall and I am 5’10″, so we do need some leg room. The food was bad but have you ever had a delicious meal on a plane?

The flight was a 12-hour non-stop direct flight from San Francisco to Beijing. TVs  indeed turned out to be small and were located only in the front section. Most of the films were in Chinese with English subtitles. If you didn’t have a portable DVD player, you pretty much had to entertain yourself.

Your entertainment options were not too bad. You could read, listen to your Ipod or go to the end of the plane and get to know some travelers over a drink or do some tai chi with Chinese folks. Chinese people know that it is important to move around during long flights, and indeed they do move around a lot.

Like most people I hate airplanes bathrooms: claustrophobic small rooms with dirty, smelly toilets that threaten to suck you in when you flush them. Now imagine about four hundred people on the big plane using a very few bathrooms over the period of twelve hours. You probably don’t want to imagine it, right? Air China had the cleanest bathrooms I ever saw. In fact, later on, I was impressed with the cleanness of all public bathrooms in China. I think Chinese make a point to clean their bathrooms. Some of us need to learn this from them.

It was bad. As soon as we were outside and started walking to our tour bus, I smelled something metallic in the air. This metallic taste slowly moved into my throat and settled there for the next ten days. Mistakenly I thought that something was burning. Finally, I realize that it was the infamous Chinese pollution.

The pollution was thick, heavy and had a life of its own. Early morning you could see blue sky but by noon all you could see was grey polluted air embracing the city. You could feel its metallic taste in your throat.

We noticed that a lot of Chinese people coughed a lot. They also hacked a lot. In fact, you had to be careful when someone hacked close to you. If you stood too close, some hacks may end up on your shoes. Not on purpose, and it would be your fault because you were not watching.

Chinese people didn’t say “excuse me”, “I am sorry”, “I didn’t mean to.” If you were in their way, they would push you, move you and would not look back to check if you are okay. In the airport when I was pushed aside, and Beaker almost got run over by a cart loaded with luggage, I felt like I was back home in the good old Soviet Union. More of this resemblance will come later.

Yes, you have read it right. In spite of the horrible pollution and traffic you could not possibly imagine, China is very conscious about their open space and … sustainability. For example, in Beijing we discovered that hotels in China make sure you don’t leave your room lights on when you leave your room. Your room key serves as a power trigger. You open your door, you put your room key in an allocated power pocket and the lights come on. You leave your room, you take out your key from the power pocket and your lights go off. Simple? Yes. Great? Absolutely.

Top Seven Excuses (From a Man’s Perspective)

If you enjoyed my article Why Women Lie About Shopping, you might as well enjoy this guest post by Benjamin Miller about shopping debacles … from a man’s point of view.

As Christmas nears, and the love for humans and family alike grow, we have decided to help all of those people out there who seem to have spent a little too much money – on themselves! Our handy dandy Christmas list is sure to be on everybody’s wish list! With no further ado we list the “Top Seven excuses to use when you made a huge purchase without your partners consent and are tying to make up for it by making an awesome excuse so you don’t have to sleep on the couch!”

7) Buying this will help our relationship! True for about the first three seconds until it hits them that you just spent the entire Christmas money on a Play Station, WII and a flat screen TV all in one day. Try to come up with a nice explanation as to how you can spend more time together, or better yet, have less time together!

6) You will use it as well! About 90% of the time your spouse will hound you for buying the (insert large item here) only to use it themselves! Explain this simple rule from the get go and you can throw it in their faces every time they bring it up.

5) I asked you weeks ago! In all honesty, you didn’t ask them weeks ago, and you probably decided to buy it once you walked into the store. However, good news for you, they probably don’t even remember what you told them a day ago let alone a few weeks. For better effect, use an exact date like October 12th.

4) What purchase, I don’t see any (insert large object here). This is the obvious bluff move here. Pretend you don’t see it, buy it, or have used it, all at the same time asking your significant other to move so that you can play with the (insert large object here).

3) But it was only (reduce actual price by 43%)! This will only work if you draw a big 43% off sign and place it in a very conspicuous place on the (insert large object here). If they believe you then you deserve to have bought it in the first place!

2) Because I wanted it! Before ducking from the obvious oncoming slap from your partner, enjoy in solace the fact that you stood up for yourself. The best news is that you can make a little fort out of the couch pillow for the next week.

1) I love you sweetie pie! Could be combined with flowers, chocolate or other affectionate items. This will only work for a short period of time, so make sure you get as much use out of the item as possible. By that time you won’t care if you have to sleep on the couch because you have already got copious amounts of joy out of your item!

BONUSDon’t tell them – This is the obvious choice for anybody. Just don’t tell your significant other and if they ask about it, simply change the subject. I recommend complimenting them on their hair or how well they look. This only works if they have cut their hair, but for most men their spouses will notice that they tried and forgive them for not noticing for the past 4 months.

There you have it, our awesome “Top Seven excuses to use when you made a huge purchase without your partners consent and are tying to make up for it by making an awesome excuse so you don’t have to sleep on the couch!” for 2010!

You can find more interesting, funny and informative articles, top seven lists, survival guides and much more over at

Eat Drink Choose

The Holidays are here, and so is overindulging with food, drinks and desserts.  I did some research to make sure I don’t bust my waistline.  It appeared that some of my favorite Holiday extras might derail even the fittest and the healthiest of us.

DIPS.  It was appalling to realize that some dips in one scoop have more fat than 12 (!!!) strips of bacon. What kind of scoops are those, you might wonder. I am not talking about the size of a football field scoops but normal (whatever is normal for you) small size scoops.

Dips to avoid:

– Crab Dip. It is usually mixed with mayo. That said, make sure to keep portions small.

– Brie. I love, love cheese but apparently this cheese has more fat than two jelly donuts. I love jelly donuts, by the way.

– Spinach Artichoke Dip. This is my favorite dip and the worst evil of all dips. It is cheese based dip which makes it a calorie bomb.

If you are like me and have to try everything that is placed in front of you, keep your portions small.

DRINKS. You do know that drinks are usually very caloric? Ounce by ounce they add what I call wasted calories into our bodies. But for some of us the Holiday season without festive drinks doesn’t sound like a Holiday season.

Drinks to avoid:

– Eggnog. Unfortunately it is one of my favorite holiday drinks. Or so it was until I did this research and found out that (depending on the portion) it can contain up to 19 grams of fat. I still love it but in a very tiny glass. I might go with anapple cider this year. It is still festive and doesn’t have any fat.

– Chocolate martini. It tastes good, it looks clear but it packs a lot of calories.

– Mulled wine. When you add sugar, honey and whatever else you want to add, you end up with twice (if not more) amount of calories than traditional wine has. Do you like champagne? Pop the cork then because it only has 80 calories per 4-oz glass.

DESSERTS. If you are a dessert lover, read carefully. If you don’t like desserts, maybe you should reconsider because desserts make our lives so much better.

My research showed that pumpkin pie carries the fewest amounts of calories and fat. This was very disappointing because I don’t eat pumpkin. Apple pie is not a bad choice either if you make your one (emphasis on “one”) slice a very small size. Don’t even think to add ice cream to it unless you are planning to run five miles on the treadmill the next day.

You are probably thinking that there is no good news in the dessert department. Wrong! Lemon Meringue Pie is another good choice for dessert lovers. Its topping is made mostly of egg whites and that is what makes it somewhat light and affordable calorie wise.

Desserts to avoid:

– Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie. It sounds good, tastes heavenly but has so many calories that I am afraid even to think about one little bite. Forget it.

– Pecan Pie. I used to love this pie. But it is pretty sweet and heavy. It is probably a better option than Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie but not by much. I might have a bite of it but no more.

– Sugar cookies. They are sweet. They are small. They look innocent. But don’t you succumb to their looks. Think about all the butter that was used to make them. I bet if you can visualize it, you will stay away from sugar cookies for the rest of your life.

It is not all that bad. I did not want to scare you away from dips, drinks and desserts. It is all about making a choice. So, choose wisely and have a great time!

Set Yourself Free, Get A Peace Of Mind And Have Fun

It seems to me that almost everyone I know – family members, co-workers, friends –  are talking about new year’s resolutions, setting goals for the next year, for the immediate future, for the next twenty months. Goals are important, essential tools that help us to structure our lives. That’s probably why almost everyone feels that they have to be setting up some concrete and achievable goals.

Almost everyone but me. I don’t set up goals. It doesn’t mean that I don’t like coming up with anything specific, achievable and meaningful. It simply means that I don’t like to be limited by pressure to perform.

Life takes over, and our plans get postponed. We get sidetracked. We all have our good days and our bad days. When I am having a bad day, I don’t want a feeling of guilt and discouragement to hang over my head because that day I did not stay focused on some particular goal.

I set myself free by deciding to not set any goals. I did not challenge any systems. I did not try to prove any points. I just simply looked for an alternative way to… succeed. While looking for this alternative, I liberated myself from a few things.

Liberation #1

Blogging. When I started blogging a while ago, I often would say to myself that in a month of blogging I need to have 10 RSS subscribers; in two months I wanted 20 subscribers; in three months I wanted 30.

I obsessively checked Feedburner almost every day and pulled my hair out when my RSS subscriber numbers were not just stagnant but appeared to be fluid.

One dark sleepless night I finally said to myself: “Aloysa, who cares if you increase your readership by 10 every month?” Honestly, no one cared but me. So why would I be putting so much pressure on myself?Instead of chasing numbers in the Feedburner, I decided to focus on my blog’s content.

This decision gave me peace of mind and helped me to create The Kitchen Sink. I finally could relax, get inspired and have fun.

Liberation #2

Staying Fit. A few years ago I told myself that I will be hitting a gym five times a week. When January came, I dragged myself to the gym twice a week. It was a total failure. I had a goal of working out five times a week. My twice a week workouts looked quite pathetic.

My motivation was disappearing slowly but steady. Every time I’d missed a day at the gym, I was full of guilt. I blamed myself for a lack of discipline, a lack of strong will, a lack of achievement.

During another dark sleepless night I realized that I needed to love myself a little bit more, and let myself to have some breathing room. After all, walking through the gym’s door should be considered as partial achievement.

Now, it doesn’t matter if I am at the gym once a week or five times a week. What matters is that I am there, enjoying myself and having a good time.

Liberation #3

Debt Payoff. This one was a tough one. My problem was shopping and spending more money than I actually should have. So… if only I could stop shopping. If only I could stop spending. If only I could stop breathing.

I did not have a lot of will power when it came to shopping. But I did want to pay off debt, and I knew that my shopping habits were slowing our debt reduction process. A lot of people can go months and months without shopping in order to cut unnecessary spending. I have huge respect and admire them for this. However,there was not a chance that I would be able to stay away from the mall for that long.

I let myself shop as much as I wanted with only one stipulation. I had to have cash. When the intensity of a shopping diet was gone, the need to shop and to spend was reduced as well. Probably, because I still was free to shop. Just in a more responsible way.

Having no goals doesn’t mean that you stop achieving things. It actually means that you will achieve more when you stop limiting yourself by setting goals, timeframes and deadlines.

Not having goals indeed feels liberating.

Aloysa’s Reading Picks: Secrets Revealed

Are you ready for 2011? If not, check out my staff writer post at Beating Broke today, Catching Up On Your Year End Financial Planning.

You probably heard by now all of my news. I pretty much announce it every chance I get, so it would be almost impossible not to know. But just in case you don’t know, listen up!

A few days ago I broke 200K! I completed the Yakezie challenge in 2.5 months! It feels great. My Alexa rank is now about 177K. As I type it, I cannot believe it. I joined the challenge on September 27. My Alexa rank was about 2.5 million. I switched to a self-hosted site in October and ended up with Alexa of 15 million. It was tough, starting from the scratch. Few words to the challengers:  you can do it! Nothing should be stopping you. We are all in this together!

Last week I became a contributing writer @ Beating Broke. My first article The Golden Rules of Haggling was published this week. Please make sure to stop by. I had fun writing The Rules. I hope you will have fun reading my post.

Someone asked me what is the secret of my success with my Alexa rank dropping so fast. I wondered about it myself. Then I looked at Google Analytics and my eyes opened up. Here are my secrets revealed:

My 5 top referring websites in November were:

1. Sweating the Big Stuff. This came as a big surprise. I do read this blog and comment there from time to time. Secret revealed: your comments attract readers. Leave a good, constructive comment and you might be surprised.

2. Carnival of Personal Finance. I do submit my articles to this carnival almost weekly. The result? Top two referring website! Secret revealed: participate in carnivals!

3. I had to go and take a look at this website because I had no idea what this was all about. Apparently one of my articles Beware of Men Counting Pennies ended up in this blog’s roundup. It was an editor’s pick, and as the result of it, my traffic was great for a few days. Secret revealed: write well and submit to carnivals. I know, somewhat redundant but hey, you never know who is reading you!

4. GoogleSecret revealed: I don’t write word targeted posts. I don’t know anything about SEO. Ignorance is bliss. Sometimes.

5. What can I say? I like to talk. Ask my husband Beaker, he will confirm. Secret revealed:participate in forums!

My 5 top referring websites in December are:

1. Invest It Wisely. I participated in his suggested project and the result was AMAZING. His original article was picked up by a coupe of big websites. Congratulations! As the result of it, The Kitchen Sink got some share of this traffic. Secret revealed: participate in projects. Support your blogging friends!

2. Carnival Of Personal Finance.

3. Life and My Finances. Comments people, make comments. By the way, check this blog out. Great blog, interesting reads. Special thanks to Derek for a great guest post!


5. Everyday Tips and Thoughts. I am a regular reader of this great blog. I love Kris’ humor, insight and style. I read, I comment, I get traffic.

Now as all my blogging secrets revealed, let’s catch up on some great reading:

Do we need failures in order to succeed? Find out reading Want to Be Successful? Go Out And Make Mistakes! @Life and My Finances.

Have student loans? Have trouble tracking them? Read HowTo Track Your Student Loans @Money Cone.

What would you do if the worst happend? Find out reading If The Worst Happened @Budgeting in the Fun Stuff.

I am a horrible tipper. Thanks to Suba I have a Holiday Tipping Guide – How Much and To Whom@Wealth Informatics.

This post just proves to me that being a landlord might be a nightmare. Dealing with My Tenant From Hell@Yes, I am Cheap.

Have your limits when it comes to generic stuff? Express your opinion after reading Sometimes Saving Money Isn’t Worth It – Items I Refuse To Buy Generic @Everyday Tips and Thoughts.

Are you in a disagreement when it comes to discussing finances with your significant other? Read The Daily Grind: How To Agree On Daily Finances@MomVesting.

Interested in renewable energy? Find out How Much Does Renewable Energy Cost Me? @retireby40.

Don’t we all want to stretch our money a little more? Streching Your Grocery Dollars Without Using Coupons Part 2 @Mom’s Plan

A relatively new blogger wrote an excellent article about charitable donations. Check it out – Giving to Charity – Sustainability for the Soul @Sustainable Personal Finance.

Are you a fan of Rich Dad Poor Dad? You have to read Rich Dad Wrong Dad @Buck Inspire.

Hate Christmas gifts you get from your in-laws? You are not alone! Get some laughs reading Unforgettible, Funny Holiday Gifts That Were Given as real Presents @Squirrelers.

Buy the Finer Things in Life, or Pay Off the Debt?

This inspiring article was written by Derek Sall. His article made me want to stop spending on all the frivolous things I like to indulge myself with and start being really serious about paying off our debt. Derek is a recent Finance graduate from Grand Valley State University and posts regular articles just like this one on his website,

I found my eyes lost in hers while I gently held her soft hands, and she smiled back as if I were the only man in the world at that moment. “I introduce to you, Mr. and Mrs. Sall.” We were married, and it was time to start our fabulous life together; one filled with trips to the beach and hardly a care in the world.

We moved into our apartment and within a couple of weeks, the mail parcels from “Direct Loans” began coming in. Suddenly, we realized that we had college loans to pay; they hadn’t seemed real before this moment, but now they hit us like a sack of bricks. My wife had not found a job yet, and my income was barely covering our necessary expenses. We were in trouble – and my wife needed to find a job fast.

Well, the glorious day did arrive when we found out that she had work. Soon after we received that first paycheck, we were able to pay only the interest that had been building on our deferred loans. At that moment we sat down and decided that we needed to get rid of these pesky bills.

What are the Benefits of Living Debt Free?

  • No extra interest payments over time (which can sometime be equal to the loan amount!)
  • Receive discounts with cash purchases instead of getting suckered on the payment plan
  • Have the ability to invest for your future
  • Live worry free with no debts!

After we made the decision to tackle our debt head on, we designed our first budget and began making loan payments of $200, $1,000, and at one point, $3,200. It’s amazing what can be done when we have a common focus!

Since January 2010, my wife and I have paid over $9,000 toward those student loans. One of them is completely paid and the other should be paid in full by April of 2011! It feels great!

It is completely worth it to give up a few luxuries in order to feel the freedoms that we are currently experiencing. I encourage you to start by taking a close look at your expenses – are they all necessary? If not, cut them out and put the money toward those debts! You’ll be glad you did.

Do you have a great debt story? Leave a comment and let me know how you handled it. Did you tackle it head on, or did you mistakenly allow it to build with interest?