Monday, July 23, 2007

Punny Money Seeking Paid Writers

Author: Nick
Category: Money

get paid to write for punny money

IMPORTANT NOTE: Due to the overwhelming response, we are temporarily not accepting new submissions at this time.

  • Do you want to be a personal finance writer, but you don’t have the time or technical patience to start your own website?
  • Do you want to start making money right away from your writing, rather than waiting weeks or months for advertising revenue to start coming in?
  • Are you an existing personal finance writer frustrated by low ad payouts and/or looking to reach a large audience?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then Punny Money wants to pay you to write for us!

We’re looking for talented writers who would like to share their knowledge of personal finance topics with the Punny Money reading audience and earn some extra cash on the side. There’s no limit to how much you can earn writing for Punny Money, and our tier-based payment structure rewards those who keep writing for us.

What We’re Looking For

If you’re a regular reader, you already know what makes a great Punny Money article. If not, here’s what we’re looking for:

  • It’s about personal finance. Punny Money is a personal finance website. Personal finance includes a wide spectrum of topics including (but not limited to) saving, budgeting, spending, investments, gaining and using credit, making money, working, paying taxes… pretty much anything having to do with people and money.
  • It’s uniquely informative or educational. Punny Money is looking for original ideas, not information regurgitated from other sources.
  • It’s humorous and entertaining. Personal finance can be a dry subject, but not at Punny Money! All articles undergo a rigorous 67-point humor and entertainment inspection before being released to the general public. A good sense of humor and knowledge of how to keep a reader entertained are an absolute must!
  • It’s concise and captivating. Punny Money articles must grab the attention of the reader and get to the point quickly. While longer articles will be considered, length is far less important than content. Articles must, however, have a minimum length of 500 words to be considered for publication.

How You Get Paid

If your article is selected for publication on Punny Money, the absolute bare minimum you’ll make is $10. After your fifth published article, your rate will increase to $15 per article. After your 20th article, you’ll receive $20 per article. Bonuses will also be paid (at the discretion of the webmaster) for especially detailed, lengthy, or content-filled articles or if your article draws high traffic or readership participation. The following table summarizes the current Punny Money writing fees.

Number of your articles published Per-article rate
1 -5 (Tier 1) $10
6 – 20 (Tier 2) $15
21+ (Tier 3) $20
Discretionary length/content bonuses $5 – $15
Other discretionary bonuses $5 – ???

Payment is sent to you by check each time an article you’ve written is published, no minimum payout required. Optionally, you can request that checks only be sent when you’ve earned a certain amount.

Please note that if you earn $600 or more publishing articles on Punny Money in a single tax year, you will be asked to provide your social security or Federal tax identification number, and information about your earnings may be disclosed to the United States Internal Revenue Service.

***Special Limited Time Offer Bonus!!!*** The first five writers to have articles approved for publishing will be skipped to Tier 2 immediately. That means you make $15 on each of your first 20 articles and $20 after that! In addition, the first five writers to have five articles approved for publishing will receive a $50 bonus! (July 24, 2007 6:10pm EDT: We’ve got our first five writers, so the first bonus has expired, but keep submitting because the five-article bonus is still up for grabs!)

What Else Is In It For You?

Good writers will be invited to write more. More writing means more money for you!

Writers can include their own blurb at the end of each article. You can provide information about yourself, including a link to your own website, in this blurb. Here’s an example:

Bob Jones is a software engineer and freelance writer from Cleveland, Ohio. He publishes a blog about widgets at Bob’s Widget Blog. He lives with his three wives and seven children in a floating castle made of cheese.

So not only do you get paid, but you can also get publicity for your own interwebical operations.

How to Get Started

Getting your article published on Punny Money is pretty straightforward:

(IMPORTANT NOTE: Due to the overwhelming response, we are temporarily not accepting new submissions at this time.)

  1. E-mail your article as an attachment (.txt, .rtf, or .doc formats only) to . If this is your first submission, please also include the following information:
    • Your First and Last Name
    • Your Mailing Address (payment will be sent here; U.S. mailing addresses only)
    • Your Age (writers must be 18 years of age or older)
    • Your Footer Blurb (up to 50 words, and may include information about yourself, including a link to your website)
    • Minimum payout amount (optional; only provide if you don’t want a separate check sent for each article published)
  2. Your article will be reviewed, and you will receive an e-mail informing you whether or not your submission has been selected for publication. If it is not selected, your article will not be published and you will not be paid (duh). If an article is rejected, it may be returned with suggestions for improvement; you may resubmit revised articles once for reconsideration.
  3. If your article is selected for publication, you will receive an e-mail confirming its acceptance, and payment will be mailed within 10 business days. Please note, accepted articles may be edited by the webmaster prior to publication.

Pseudonyms. If you prefer to publish under a pseudonym, or if you want checks to be made out to a name other than the one you provide (like a business name), please let us know. Please note that we cannot issue checks to pseudonyms, so you must provide your real name or business name. Don’t worry, we won’t disclose your real name if you prefer to write under another name or anonymously.

Previously published content. Please note that Punny Money cannot publish content previously published in any print or online medium in whole or in part. Sorry, new stuff only!

Rights and Licenses

You retain full copyright to all articles submitted to or published at Punny Money.

If your article is selected for publication, you grant us a non-exclusive license to use, display, republish, sell, edit, alter, or delete your article in any way and for any reason. In addition, you agree not to publish the article in part or in whole in any other print or online publication for 90 days following its initial publication on Punny Money.

Full Details

We’ve set up a dedicated page to explain how you can make money writing for Punny Money. For now, it’s pretty much the same stuff as above, but we’ll update that page if anything changes. There are also some legal terms and conditions our lawyer makes us throw in so we don’t get sued three times a week, but they just reiterate what’s already been stated above.

Oh, and I should mention that Punny Money is not the only website operated by Punny LLC, so writers may also be given the opportunity to write for our other sites, too!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

App-O-Ramas and Bumpage: The Secret Arts of Free Money and Flawless Credit Reports

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics: , ,

balance transfer offers are waving free money in your face

By Rebecca Lennox

BETHESDA, Md. – Tuesday is just another day on the internet for 25-year-old WalletMan81. He pulls up his RSS feed reader and checks out what’s happening in the world of geek culture. Maybe he kills a few minutes playing his favorite Flash point-and-click games. But there’s always one thing WalletMan81 is sure to do each morning before logging off and piling onto Interstate 495 along with 100,000 other D.C.-area techies.

He clicks a few magical buttons and increases his credit score.

“A little bumpage a day keeps the FICO score… uh, happy,” he says. While I wasn’t surprised to learn that WalletMan81 is not his real name, maybe it should be. WalletMan says he spends at least an hour every day using the internet to orchestrate his vast financial holdings.

“Well, maybe not vast,” he corrects me. “I mean, I do have about $175,000 sitting in the bank right now, but most of it isn’t mine; it’s the credit card companies’.”

WalletMan has mastered the little-known personal finance tactic known as the App-O-Rama. Every six months or so, WalletMan will take a day off of work just to apply for credit cards–often dozens of them in a single sitting. But from his relatively modest one-bedroom apartment setting, you can tell that he’s not signing up for these credit cards to load up on luxuries and plunge himself into debt.”

“I’m after the zero-percent bee-tee money, man.” He points to a computer display showing his current savings account balance. “This… this money here I’ll have to pay back in the next six to twelve months. But this right here…” He points to the interest paid column. “That’s all mine.”

App-O-Ramas: Making Free Cash With Credit Card Company Money

WalletMan is one of hundreds who participate in an online discussion forum that talks about secret financial techniques like the App-O-Rama that aren’t generally known to the public. He explains that the purpose of the App-O-Rama is simple: cram as many credit card applications as possible into a short period of time. With each subsequent application, WalletMan knows his credit score will take a hit since credit scoring bureaus see applications for credit as a reason to ding his creditworthiness. But if he applies for 30 cards all at the same time, the credit card companies will all see the same higher credit score than if he spread those applications out over several days. The gradual approach would allow the first batch of applications to dent his score, threatening the likelihood that the subsequent applications will be approved.

“Once the apps go through–takes a few days or a couple weeks–I’ll do a zero-percent bee-tee–a balance transfer–from the new credit line to my savings account.” WalletMan takes out a credit card mailing advertising a no-fee, zero-percent balance transfer, essentially a cash-out of a card’s credit line to another credit card or even a bank account. Unlike most credit card balances which carry interest rates upward of 30%, these promotional offers allow cardholders to borrow money at low or no interest for six to 24 months, requiring only a small balance transfer fee (usually $75 or less, though sometimes as low as zero) and monthly payments of 2-4% of the current balance.

WalletMan provides a cheat sheet for friends and family to try their own “bee-tees.”

  1. Sign up for a bunch of credit cards with good BT offers.
  2. Log on to the website (or call) and move about 90% of the total credit line to another card or request a paper check.
  3. Pay the minimum each month for the length of the offer.
  4. Pay it off at the end.
  5. Pocket the interest and repeat.

“I only use about 90% of any credit line because going higher than that can really trash your score.” WalletMan refers to the Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) credit score, a number between 300 and 850 every American has that indicates his or her ability to handle credit. WalletMan shows me his latest FICO score pull–755, near the top of the range. “I’m planning another App-O-Rama in August, so that’ll probably drop back down to 600 for a bit.”

WalletMan reveals that he learned about App-O-Ramas and making interest from credit card company money four years ago from a personal finance website. “The trick was pretty new back then, but a lot more people have gotten into it since. The card companies are starting to get wise to us and’ve been dialing back on the bee-tee offers. Now they usually come with a higher fee or non-zero interest rate.”

He explains that card companies give out balance transfer offers to attract new customers–hopefully new customers who will carry lengthy balances and cough up more in interest payments than it will cost the companies during the promotional offer period. But WalletMan is no fool. “I’ve never paid a dime in interest to credit card companies. I let them pay me instead.”

Of all the credit card companies, WalletMan points to Citibank as the friendliest to App-O-Rama’ers like himself. “You can move balance transfer money to your Citi cards and request a check to deposit right into your savings account. Not a lot of companies make it that easy.”

WalletMan even started his own business whose sole purpose is to allow him to apply for business credit cards. He takes out a copy of his LLC’s Articles of Organization. Sure enough, on the line “Purpose for which the Limited Liability Company is filed is as follows:” appears the typed-in text “To apply for business credit cards and perform balance transfer arbitrage.”

“Business credit cards give out huge credit lines, sometimes four or five times what you’ll get with regular cards.” WalletMan opens a thick three-ring binder to the middle and reveals pages and pages of plastic baseball card sheets full of business credit cards. “Between regular and business [cards], I’m at 93.” Most of the cards still have their activation stickers on them, indicating WalletMan has never used them for purchases.

Bumpage: The Credit Report Cleanser Card Issuers Don’t Want You To Know About

WalletMan jumps out of his chair and thrusts his leg into the air. “Bumpage is like a Chuck Norris roundhouse kick to your credit report.” He laughs and adds, “That would have been much cooler if you were a video blogger.”

He goes on to reveal the best-kept secret of the App-O-Rama community, a sneaky trick formally called bumpage but often simply referred to as “B” by personal finance ninjas lurking in the back alleys of the internet.

“Hard pulls–which your credit report gets when a card company pulls your credit during an app–those ding your score anywhere from 5 to 20 points each.” WalletMan clicks his mouse, brings up a copy of his credit report, and points to the section headed “Inquiries.” He taps the screen to indicate inquiries marked “Citi” and “Chase,” two major card issuers.

“Soft pulls happen whenever you request your own credit report, like I just did. They don’t affect your score at all. Two of the main credit reporting agencies, TransUnion and Equifax, only store a certain number of soft and hard pulls. So if you can fill up your credit report with soft pulls, you can bump off all the hard ones. And that’ll bump up your credit score overnight.”

WalletMan says that his morning ritual includes pulling his credit report from numerous websites in order to plow those hard inquiries off his reports. “It takes a month or two, but I can reverse all the damage done to my score by an App-O-Rama. Then I simply repeat the whole process.”

Subscriptions to the credit reporting services WalletMan uses to fill his reports with soft inquiries, including PrivacyGuard and TrueCredit, run anywhere from $10 to $30 a month, but he says they’re well worth it.

WalletMan warns that, while bumpage is fairly effective when done right, it can lead to problems if you don’t know what you’re doing. “Some credit reporting services like Equifax’s Credit Watch will cut off your soft inquiries just before you get to the level needed for bumpage. They call that ‘choppage’.”

WalletMan peruses internet discussion forums daily, looking for warning signs that credit reporting agencies are engaging in choppage. “So far, I’ve been lucky. A lot of others haven’t been.” He bows his head as if talking about comrades who never returned from a dangerous journey. “It can be a wild ride, these App-O-Ramas and bumpage and all. One wrong move and you can severely damage your credit report. But for me and many others, it’s been worth the risk.”

The Payoff

“Last year, after taxes, I made $10,360 doing balance transfer offers.”

By moving the cash-outs from balance transfer offers into savings accounts and CDs, WalletMan earns interest on the interest-free money lent to him by credit card companies. “All I have to do is make the minimum payments each month and pay off the balance before the low-rate period ends. I make the interest instead of paying it to the credit card companies.”

WalletMan says he only goes for safe investments with balance transfer money since stocks carry the risk that he won’t be able to pay back the money he borrows from credit card issuers. He suggests internet-only or small-time banks as the best place to score high interest yields. “Right now, I have a few bucks in CDs, but pretty much everything is sitting in the First National Bank of Omaha earning six percent APY.”

Drawing from his research into consumer law, WalletMan says that the whole operation is completely legal. “It’s not breaking the law to borrow credit card company money for profit. And I pay taxes on every penny of interest I make.” But WalletMan confesses to a few shady actions required to rein in some of the juicier balance transfer offers. “I may have indicated that my business makes $175,000 a year on business credit card apps. In a way, I do; I just have to pay most of it back.”

WalletMan is still a long way off from turning App-O-Ramas into a full-time job. “I’m hoping to net $15,000 after taxes from bee-tees this year.” That’s not nearly enough to survive in his Washington D.C. suburb where rent on a one-bedroom apartment starts at $1,400 a month. “Now I could maybe move to some small town or the middle of nowhere and survive on $15,000 a year, as long as I had an internet connection.”

The road ahead for WalletMan and his balance transfer schemes is uncertain. More card issuers are becoming wise to App-O-Ramas, and the balance transfer offers and coming less frequently or with strings attached. “A lot of offers now want you to pay a fee of three to five percent of the balance when you do the transfer. That eats up most of the interest I’d earn right there.” He admits there are still lots of offers available out there, “But you’ve gotta take the time to find them.”

When asked if he has an accountant to handle some of his more complex financial endeavors, WalletMan sticks his thumb to his chest. “No way am I paying somebody to do this job for me. It’s too easy.”

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (12 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5)

Rebecca Lennox is a freelance writer from Baltimore, Maryland.

Interested in writing for Punny Money like Rebecca and making $10-$50 an article? Learn how to get paid to write for us.

Monday, July 16, 2007

New Government Website Helps Victims of Bank Stupidity

Author: Nick
Category: Money

an hows i spose ta mail dis here letter when the post office done put ma picshure up on deys wall?

Today must have been a bad day in the money world because I heard no fewer than three complaints from co-workers regarding experiences at their local banks, including:

  • “My bank only had one teller working with 15 people in line.”
  • “It took me two hours to get my deposit straightened out.”
  • “My girlfriend dumped me over the weekend. Yeah, she works at a bank.”

But where can a person turn when their banks or bank-affiliated girlfriends do them wrong? The Comptroller of the Currency Administrator of National Banks announced today that, after three years spent painting their name on the side of their office building, they’ve opened a new website to assist consumers with their banking maladies:

At, you’ll find tons of answers to common banking questions, but here are a few of my favorites:

The bank charged $34 for an overdraft, which seems excessive. Is there a limit?

Federal laws do not establish maximum amounts for fees that national banks can charge on your account. These decisions are made by the bank—and in some instances, are prescribed by State law. [In other words, quit your whining, and next time, read the fine print.]

I was contacted by phone to apply for a credit card. The solicitor discussed a low interest rate and I agreed. But when I received the loan/credit card, the rate was higher. Can the bank do that?

Yes. The solicitor should have explained the steps the bank will take once you apply. Generally, the bank will review your credit report and the information you provide to determine if you meet the criteria for the offer. After the review is completed, you may not qualify for the terms that you requested—or even for the card itself. [In other words, why were you stupid enough to sign up for a credit card from a telemarketer?]

I wrote a check and post-dated it. However, the bank cashed it prior to the date written on the check. Can the bank do this?

Yes. National banks are permitted to pay checks even though payment occurs prior to the date of the check. [In other words, don’t write checks you can’t pay.]

Naturally, the answers to virtually every question on the website suggest that the consumer may be the one in the wrong most of the time. But for those who truly think their bank screwed them over, there’s a handy link to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s unwieldy complaint form. Simply fill out the form, whisk it off to Houston, click your heels three times, and your banking problems will be solved! (…Though likely to the benefit of the bank.)

Punny Poll #21: Is Mankind Doomed?

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics: ,

oh please oh please do NOT let it be the starbucks!

I know you’re anxious to read this month’s Punny Poll based on that title, but first we must discuss the results of the previous poll which asked “How far would you go for $50 million, assuming you couldn’t get caught?” At one point, a whopping 80% of you said you’d lie, cheat, steal, or murder your way to wealth if given the opportunity. Then a bus full of church ladies drove through here and tainted the poll numbers. As of the 490th vote, 68% claimed they’d never do anything wrong for money. A handful of you indicated you’d cheat on taxes, trip an old lady, or become the next Hitler to get your hands on a fortune. Most alarmingly, 11% stated they’d drown some kittens for some cash; I’ve forwarded your IP addresses to the SPCA, PETA, and Santa Claus.

Now on to more pressing topics–the impending destruction of humanity. Today alone, a number of signs of the forthcoming apocalypse have revealed themselves, almost ensuring the annihilation of us poor homo sapiens at the hands of one or all of the following:

It’s a shame too because I was really starting to like a few of you more attractive folks. Or perhaps I’m jumping the gun here and it’s too early to doubt our perpetual existence. I guess there’s only one way to find out for certain: let all of you decide our fate!

Is mankind doomed?

View Results

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Monday, July 9, 2007

Why Our Water Bill Is $9 a Month, And Why Yours Isn’t

Author: Nick
Category: Money

dramatic water drop to emphasize the importance of this article

When we moved into our house about ten months ago, we received a copy of the previous owners’ final water bill. Since we’re billed for a three-month cycle, we were shocked to see the previous owners averaging around $60 a month for the last three months in water and sewage fees. This means their family of four (three adults, one toddler) were using about 12,000 gallons of water every month, or 400 gallons each day.

To put that into perspective, a 10-minute shower uses around 30 gallons with a low-flow shower head (which our house has), our clothes washer uses about 30 gallons per load, our toilet uses 3.5 gallons a flush, and our dishwasher averages 15 gallons a load. Even assuming 4 showers, 20 flushes, and a load of clothes and dishes every single day, that’s only 240 gallons. Perhaps someone enjoyed hour-long showers, or the toddler found the sound of flushing toilets amusing. Or worse… our house had an undetectable leak somewhere.

Unfortunately our first six months of water bills were estimated on previous usage, so we had to cough up around $150 every three months to pay our water and sewer bill. A couple of weeks ago, we finally had our first actual water meter reading. Our latest amount due? About negative $220.

That means our actual water usage since we moved in averaged $9 a month, or just under 2,000 gallons of water every 30 days. How do we manage to use only 70 gallons of water a day? It’s really nothing you couldn’t think of yourself:

  • We run full dishwasher loads only.
  • We take five-minute showers.
  • We don’t wash a shirt just because we wore it for two minutes.
  • We don’t run water unless it’s being used for something.

Maybe you’re thinking “why isn’t my water bill that low?” The reason is simple, and it’s not all your fault: water is cheap. A gallon of gasoline runs over $3 now, but a gallon of tap water goes for less than a penny. If something costs less than a penny, most people see that as “virtually free.” They might wonder why their water bill is $60 at the end of the month, but that isn’t enough to change the typical family’s water usage habits.

But don’t worry, you’ll soon be paying a couple hundred times more for that water. By 2050, much of the world will face water shortages–even parts of the United States. Maybe when you’re paying for water what you’re now paying for gas, people will start making every drop count.