I was thinking about jazzing up my movie reviews website. I figured the easiest way to do this would be to add a stylesheet which could apply background colors, text styles, and snazzy layouts to the whole site easily. I went and looked for some sample stylesheets to see what I could do. I have worked with stylesheets on the blog and on the wiki and they get kind of complicated, so I just wanted something simple. But I would need to add some additional tags to the movie reviews to make it all work.
The way the movie review site works right now is all of the reviews are stored in a Microsoft Access database and then I can create all the pages of the website by pushing a couple of buttons in the database. Then I just need to upload the files to my server. This is different from how the blog and wiki work. They store the files in a database on the web server. You enter a blog entry or wiki article and it is stored in the online database. The blog and wiki use php code and SQL databases. It’s not insanely complicated, but I don’t want to have to write all of the php from scratch. So I wanted to stick to Microsoft Access.
In 2007 I started DSL service for $19.99 a month with no telephone service. This was a condition that AT&T agreed to as part of the BellSouth and AT&T merger. So I knew it wouldn’t last. The rate lasted longer than I thought, but last December it went up to $25. Still, that wasn’t too bad, so I’ve been paying that, even though I have DSL Lite which is the slowest form of high speed internet (768 kbps download speed and 128 kbps upload speed).
The latest bill was for $29.95, which seems like too much for what I am getting. I have been getting ads for Clear internet service which creates a 4G cellular hotspot in your house. Their high speed plan is $50 a month (3000 to 6000 kbps download, 1000 kbps upload), but they have a lower speed plan (1500 kbps download and 500 kbps upload, still much faster than DSL Lite) for $34.95. They have two choices for equipment. One is a home hub that connects to the 4G network and then communicates with the devices in your house over wi-fi (it also has a port for a ethernet cable that I would use for my desktop computer). The other choice is a battery-powered device that gives you a wi-fi hotspot wherever you go since it is connecting to a wireless system anyway. That was kind of neat because it meant I could take the internet wherever I went. The home device has an ethernet port to hook up a desktop computer, but the portable one doesn’t. Either device is $50.
I figured before I signed up for Clear, I should check with AT&T and see if they would give me a better rate or at least increase the speed to something like what Clear is offering. Their offices were closed this weekend, but open today (surprising since it is MLK Day). They said they could upgrade my plan to one that costs $32.95 (I think, but I couldn’t find a plan online at that price point) and it would be a lot faster. Then they could offer me a 50% discount for 6 months, knocking the price down to $16.50. Alternatively, they could give me a $15 per month discount that would knock the price down to $23 (that must be for a $38/month plan which is 1500 kbps) but it would be for 12 months. I’d rather have 12 months and even with the higher speed it is still cheaper than what I was paying before the rate increase. That’s enough to keep me for another year anyway, then I’ll just have to revisit the issue next January. They said the new service would be available to me on Wednesday and I would just need to unplug the modem and plug it back in.
I used to post quarterly about all the stuff I was selling through Amazon affiliate links. But the iPod stuff has died down quite a bit. 2012 saw a little bit of resurgence with some flashlight-related things selling like flashlights, batteries, and chargers. Plus there is always a secondary effect where I refer people to Amazon and then they buy something completely different, but I still earn a commission.
All told there were 134 items sold in 2012 worth $2649, earning me a commission of $128 (which pays for the hosting the website and domain registrations). The most expensive item that was sold was a kitchen disposal for $129. Second most expensive was an Amazon Kindle for $99. The thing I sold the most of was compact Sony charger, with 13 units being sold (with prices from $7.99 to $11.97). It’s a great little charger and I actually do have links to it, unlike the disposal or Kindle.
The state of Georgia passed a law saying that any goods sold in Georgia, or by companies with locations in Georgia, should apply Georgia sales tax. So while Amazon does not have a location in Georgia, Georgia says that because I am in Georgia and am an affiliate of Amazon, that Amazon should collect Georgia sales tax. This seems like nonsense to me. If the original seller was in Utah, Amazon headquarters are located in Washington state, the affiliate is in Georgia, and the item shipped from a warehouse in Indiana, then by that reasoning they could all 4 charge sales tax. Amazon says it has no intention of complying, and I don’t know that Georgia has any way of making them comply. They could try to make me comply, but I’m not in a position to collect sales tax since I don’t process the payments. So we’ll see if anything materializes. If Georgia somehow wins, then Amazon might just drop all of its Georgia affiliates.
Last year I put my Roth contribution in a Fidelity sector fund concentrating on banking and investing (Fidelity Select Financial, FIDSX). It did pretty well and after it went up 20% I exchanged it for a high-yield bond fund in September (FAGIX). I wanted something more conservative than equities which had gone up a good bit, and it seemed like there was still a lot of turmoil ahead relating to the fiscal cliff. However, I think FIDSX ended up a little ahead of where I sold it.
For 2013, I realized that I could put the entire contribution in an existing Roth fund I already have, Vanguard’s Small Cap Value (VISVX), and that would get that balance up high enough to upgrade to Vanguard’s “Admiral shares” which have a lower expense ratio. It isn’t a huge difference, 0.24% for VISVX and 0.10% for the admiral shares (VSIAX), but why not? It’s half the cost.
To fund it, I figured I would sell some emerging market shares (VEMAX) I have that have gone up 20% since I bought them and then buy the rest of the $5,500 maximum allowable contribution with some short-term bond fund shares.
Not real exciting, but I do think small caps will continue to do well this upcoming year. Now that I’ve paid off my mortgage, I also went ahead and maxed out my deferred compensation contributions for 2013 and opened a 401k, which seems like double-dipping, but you are allowed to do both. I may have bit off too much by adding the 401k, but I can reduce it later.