Category Archives: finances

So You Want to Work From Home….

kittens at workYou’ve heard the ads, perhaps dreamed of working from home. You envision yourself positioned in your own little office in the spare bedroom or a cozy corner of the kitchen, working away while the children play quietly nearby, the dog sleeps by your feet and the money just keeps dropping into your bank account as you faithfully apply your skills.
As a seasoned medical transcriptionist with nearly 11 years’ experience, I’d like to take this opportunity to share with you some of the ups and down of working from home.  There are many reasons people choose to work from home and certainly there are a lot of benefits from doing so.  For me, my venture into this lifestyle started when my marriage fell apart and I was suddenly the sole provider for myself and the 3 of my 7 children still at home. I had been a stay-at-home mom for over 22 years and the thought of diving headfirst into the regular workforce was terrifying. I think it was a real saving grace for me and for my kids that during this time of great upheaval in our family I was able to still be the at-home-all-the-time mom while being able to work and provide for us. Being able to avoid the need for before and after school care and the predicament of knowing you really need to be in the office when your 6-year-old is running a fever significantly lessened the load for all of us. Snow days weren’t a problem, because I was home. Teacher conference days, Christmas break, summers….all were handled with so much more ease because I didn’t have to feel quite so pulled in both directions. I know a lot of women seem able to juggle working outside the home and family and do it really well…but I will always be grateful I had this opportunity to remain in my home full time.

So, for me having the chance to work from home really was a lifesaver and a blessing and I do encourage mothers (especially mothers with young children) who need to work to consider working from home. But, there are also special challenges and drawbacks and I’d like to present some of those here, because I think knowing what you’re up against can strengthen you to face the challenges and still achieve your goal of working from home.

obed at workThat picture of the kids playing quietly and the dog by your feet? Yes, it happens sometimes…maybe once or twice a year?! Seriously, one of the biggest challenges to working from home is that because you are home everyone assumes that means you’re available…the kids, the neighbors, the dog, the cat. There have been so many times I’ve been on a roll typing away when one of the animals would get sick, or the dog would bark to go out. Then there were the times I would spot something outside my window…yep, the goats had broken out of their fence again and were running down the road or worse yet, heading for the neighbor’s garden! So keyboard tossed aside and a dash out the door to do a little mid-morning goat wrangling, or clean up after the dog, or answer the phone and talk for a few minutes with a lonely grown daughter in another state. I found the best way for me to handle distractions like these was to work either early in the morning (really early, i.e. 4 a.m.) or late at night, after kids were in bed and life had quieted down. Some companies will allow you to choose your own schedule and are pretty flexible while others are very rigid. If you can choose to work when there are fewer distractions that’s great. If not I think establishing firm boundaries right from the beginning is a key. Set up your answering machine stating that you are working and will return phone calls when you are finished. We have a code in our family that if we are calling home and really need someone to pick up the phone we call 3 times in a row. That is the signal that somebody needs to answer the phone right away! So you can either use caller ID or a code or another idea of your own so you are accessible in emergencies, but really try to guard yourself from phone interruptions.

Teach the kids right from the beginning that you are not to be interrupted while working unless it is urgent…and be clear on what is urgent. The younger your children the harder this will be. Of course when the goats escape…there’s nothing to do but catch them!

goats4Working from home can be pretty lonely. I’ve spent decades at home…first as a full time stay-at-home mother and then as a working-from-home mother. While there is no workplace drama, there is also no workplace conversation or adult companionship. So, you have to find that on your own. Scheduling in coffee with friends or other activities that feed your soul can help to revitalize you and keep you sane, sometimes literally!
Some of the other positives include being able to keep handle on running the home with a little more ease than a mom who has to be gone from her home all day…you really can get 4 loads of laundry done and be there to turn off the oven when the brownies are done baking. And I believe scheduling a break so you can be there to greet the kids when they arrive home from school is a priceless gift you can give them, and yourself. I also scheduled a break when my kids were getting ready for school in the morning. One of my fondest memories is that every morning one of my teenage daughters would come into the kitchen while I was packing up lunches and say “Hey mom, listen to this song” and she would play me a new-found favorite song on her iPod. Just a little thing, but I was there for it and now that her high school days are over I’m glad I didn’t miss it. So, those are what I’ve found to be some of the basic ups and downs, positives and negatives of working from home. If it’s something you have been thinking about I’d definitely encourage you to do it!

Please feel free to post questions regarding working from home in the comments section below; help me determine what other topics I should cover in this series!

In my next post I will discuss working from home specifically as it relates to being a medical transcriptionist…the good, the bad, and the ugly…stay tuned!

If you are interested in becoming a medical transcriptionist I highly recommend CareerStep.  It’s the school I graduated from and it’s graduates are highly sought after by transcription companies.  They also offer the following programs:  Medical coding and billing, medical office management, medical administrative assistant with EHR, pharmacy technician, health information technician, computer technician, executive assistant, medical billing, and veterinary assistant.  Visit them today at http://www.referral.careerstep.com/ref12112.

Vouch – A Nifty Idea for Lending

Technology has enabled a number of innovative financial technologies that provide advantages to the consumer – Bitcoin with its anonymity and ability to transfer funds without exchange fees, mobile check deposits supported by most major banks, peer-to-peer lending such as Prosper and The Lending Club offer, and the list goes on.

The official Vouch logo.
The official Vouch logo.

Recently I received an email from Credit Sesame advertising Vouch – a lender that gives one loans based on one’s network. In the past if you wanted to secure a loan but didn’t have a good credit history (or a history at all) you needed to find someone to co-sign on the loan (or pay exorbitantly high interest rates).

The biblical book of Proverbs warns against giving oneself to unwise pledges (or co-signs):

“My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor,
if you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger,
you have been trapped by what you said,
ensnared by the words of your mouth.
So do this, my son, to free yourself,
since you have fallen into your neighbor’s hands:
Go–to the point of exhaustion–
and give your neighbor no rest!
Allow no sleep to your eyes,
no slumber to your eyelids.
Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter,
like a bird from the snare of the fowler.”
(Proverbs 6:1-5, NIV; see also 11:15, 17:18, and 22:26)

The danger in co-signing is that one essentially places one’s own well-being in the hands of another. If that other person defaults on the loan for any reason – you become responsible to pay it.

In this life there are few things we are truly in control of – part of the wisdom of life is recognizing what we can and cannot control. Vouching unwisely is something we can choose not to do.

Now vouch is a similar concept to co-signing, it just distributes the risk. Whereas previously if someone borrowed $5000 and you co-signed you would be liable for the entire $5000, with vouch you choose a level of liability – $25, $100, $500, etc.

Assuming you vouch only what is within your means to easily repay, the risk becomes fairly low. Most people can afford $25 out-of-pocket as a one-time expense, if necessary.

The idea behind vouch is to offer lower rates by essentially having numerous co-signers on a loan. I know they like the term vouch – its less scary than co-sign, but imho, it is co-signing, just distributed.

This idea is pretty spiffy, if you ask me (ohh, you didn’t? well, I guess I’ll just tell you anyways!), because it could open loans to a demographic (those with poor/no credit history) at affordable rates where there has traditionally been reasonable option available.

P2P is great if you have a good credit score – but it isn’t worth a hoot if you recently went through bankruptcy, a recession, etc.

Let me give a few examples of scenarios where I see Vouch being a valuable option:

  1. John lost his job in 2008 in the recession, over the next several years he built up $25,000 in credit card debt and his credit score declined as he had to sometimes delay paying a credit card bill to ensure his electric wasn’t turned off. At the moment he is paying 20% interest on this debt. He has recently secured a new job which pays well, has good benefits, and historically John has always been a faithful, hard worker – but his credit history is still horrible. John gets a number of friends and relatives to vouch (co-sign) $25-$100 for him and is able to refinance a significant amount of his debt through Vouch at 10% interest.
  2. Mary is heading off to college but needs an additional $2,000 to pay for her first semester. She has already taken available of all the grants and scholarships available and also the reasonably priced student loans. She now has a choice between taking out a loan from a lender who will charge her high interest due to her lack of a credit history, or she could use Vouch to allow a number of family members (parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles) to co-sign with her. Since her family knows she is responsible, they don’t mind “promising” to pay up $100 each if Mary should fail to meet her obligations. They know that Mary will not fail excluding some extraordinary circumstances.

This also makes sense for the lender. The lender is spreading their risk out. With a traditional co-sign loan one can pursue those who have signed the loan (say two to four people) to get back one’s money, but if these individuals are unable to pay, the lender is out of luck. Whereas with a system like Vouch one can spread the risk across dozens or hundreds of people – and statistically it is less likely that all will be unable/unwilling to pay (especially since it is a smaller amount) which means there is less risk for the lender of losing their investment.

This is a screenshot of the dashboard one is presented with after registering on the site.
This is a screenshot of the dashboard one is presented with after registering on the site.

I have not used  Vouch, I just think it is a neat idea. I’ve setup an account, it was fairly easy, and am waiting for them to reply to me with info. about what I would qualify for…and whether Vouch ends up being a great business or not, the solution is fairly ingenious and I hope it will take off.

A Primer on Financial Fitness (Infographic)

Received an invitation to post this nifty infographic on Dave Enjoys. It is from Intuit and covers some basic financial statistics as well as tips for maintaining one’s financial fitness or getting into financial shape…Hope you find it as interesting as I did.

[If you have an infographic you think would be of interest to Dave Enjoys readers, feel free to send it over to me…I’m not going to publish just any infographic, but if you’ve got something good, I’m happy to share it.]

An infographic from Intuit  on financial fitness.
An infographic from Intuit on financial fitness.

Source: Intuit Quicken.

SaveUp: Get Money for Saving Money?

SaveUp is an interesting site. You associate a few of your bank accounts (credit, debit, school loans) to SaveUp and they then give you “credits” based on the amount you pay down. These “credits” can then be utilized to enter raffles or play various lottery-esque games. It takes maybe ten minutes to setup the first time and then perhaps two minutes a day to enter the various contests. I haven’t won anything yet – but I am competing for one of the biggest prizes ($50k).

Five Dollar Bill.
Five Dollar Bill.

This site could be useful for anyone, but I’d considered it especially useful for anyone who has a lottery card buying habit – here you can essentially do a lottery without spending any money…save a few bucks – still have the opportunity to win a few more.

Dear Mark: Thoughts on Simpleology

Introduction

I’m always trying to improve myself. I’m always learning, always looking, always seeking. I’m a bit of a technophile, I love the ways that technology can improve our lives. I use all sorts of systems – including task management systems. I’ve used a number of them over the years – most recently I was a big Asana advocate (and I still use it)…

One system that I began using way back in the day (2005, 2006?) and have continued to use off-and-on since then is Simpleology. Lately I’ve been using it more and more…I’m not ready to switch everything over YET, but I am impressed by the system and wanted to share a bit about it with everyone…as well as disclose to Mark Joyner (Founder/CEO of Simpleology) and his co-workers my thoughts on the system and the areas that need to improve/be refined before it can really, REALLY be what I need.

Why Simpleology is Different

The first thing to note is that Simpleology is different from other task management systems. Are you familiar with David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology? It utilizes task management – but it is not just a task management system – rather it is a process by which one engages life, especially the task oriented aspects of it. Simpleology is along the same lines.

I suppose you could use Simpleology simply as a task management tool – but its real power is when you get up in the morning (or in the evening in preparation for the next day) and work through the workflow that is Simpleology. It takes the massive amount of ideas, problems, opportunities swirling around in your brain and guides you through the process of selecting which tasks you should actually work on today. It helps you be productive in the right areas and to feel productive at the end of the day.

With other task management systems (e.g. Asana) I sometimes feel overwhelmed. Great, I’ve got hundred of tasks and sub-tasks…but what do I need to do today? How do I decide?

In addition to this, Simpleology provides a number of “life hacks” that help you increase your productivity – and one of its strongest (and weakest) points is the ongoing interactive training that is available to teach you the usage of the web application.

What It Needs

I’m using Simpleology, but I’m not fully sold on it yet…Here are my concerns, big and small:

Big

  • The interactive training for Simpleology is great – it keeps you moving forward at a good pace – but it is also frustrating. Sometimes I just want a PDF user manual[1] to Simpleology. I want to begin using some features before I’m trained on them via the interactive training. Most features are fairly intuitive, but the exact mechanisms and business logic underlying these features isn’t clear and could cause me issues down the road…Here are a few areas I need to know the nuances of w/out waiting for the interactive training:
    • Recurring Tasks
    • Observe & Change
    • Engines (this is supposed to allow custom programmability / triggers within Simpleology)
    • Projects (this is a new feature in 5.5, I haven’t messed with at all)
    • Delegation Station (This seems powerful, but I need to know exactly how it works – what happens when the individual isn’t a Simpleology member and I assign them a task? Can they complete it and tell me it has been completed w/out becoming a member?
  • You can’t jump between different sections of Start My Day. That isn’t true, you just need to change to Expert mode instead of Guided.
  • The pricing model is unwieldy. You can get a great base of features for free, then move up to pro for $7/mo., but then the ultimate, elite package is $57/mo. I’m not suggesting that is too much – but there needs to be more steps in-between. For example, I’d suggest making the Business Growth, Financial Growth, Recurring Tasks, Observe & Change, Update Trackers, Ben Franklin Habits, and Prioritize add-on modules that can be purchased individually. I really have no use for the Business Growth or Financial Growth modules at this juncture. I can probably live without the Update Trackers or the Ben Franklin Habits module – but the Recurring Tasks and Prioritize modules are must haves for me – but there is no way I can afford to spend $57/mo. to get these features (ok, recurring comes with pro…). I think this would increase revenue – and folks might still find themselves throwing in all $57/mo. eventually – but it is a more gradual progression (you gotta boil a frog in a pot by slowly turning up the heat, right?).
  • The lack of storage for historical tasks. Mark informed me these limits are done away with in 5.5.

Small

  • Under Lists there is no way  to make a task disappear from its list once it is completed without deleting it. It should be able to be moved automatically to archived targets once it is completed.
  • Under Lists there is no reason to have “Mental Lockbox (Legacy)” for anyone who doesn’t have items in this category.

Other Stuff I’d Like

Here are a few items I’d like to see, but that aren’t core necessities for me (rated 1-10, 1 being unimportant to me, 10 being very important…although none of these reach the importance of the big items listed above)…

A Little History

[I’ve never met Mark in real life, I’ve never had an extended conversation with him, but I have used his products for years and followed his journey over time…and I figured I’d write down my thoughts and memories before I forget them…This section has little practical use.]

I haven’t been online as long as some, but longer than most. I remember this slick marketing guy I used to follow – Mark Joyner. He wrote a bunch of books, founded a bunch of companies (ROIbot, SearchHound, StartBlaze, Aesop Search Engine, etc.), and I thought ran Trafficology – but it seems Wayne Yeager ran this, maybe Mark can clear that up for me? Perhaps my memory is just lying to me. If you had to sum up Mark in one phrase at the time I would choose the title from his 2002 book MindControlMarketing0.[2]

Mark had a way with words that soothed you into compliance – and he was willing to teach you how you could become a mind control master as well.

Then in April 2003 Mark sent out a surprising email. You can read it in its entirety here. I think you’ll quickly see the power of his sales phrasing (mind control marketing). I was never comfortable with selling using these techniques – but I still followed Mark for a lot of his more mainstream guerrilla marketing tips (is that an oxymoron?).

Mark decided it was time to go find himself, “Bottom line is, it’s time for me to simplify. My business has become so incredibly complex that it just isn’t fun any more. It’s time for me to clean everything up, finish the unfinished business, and move on.”

Then in 2005 Mark came back on the scene with Simpleology. I remember giving it a try pretty early on. I thought it was cool – I don’t remember much about it other than some PDF books teaching productivity hacks. The usual mind control marketing techniques were evident in the early rendition of the Simpleology site. Mark used the popular technique of offering the basics for free and then charging you for the premium parts once you were hooked. Don’t get me wrong, what Mark gave away for free had real value.

Things took a much more concise approach by Oct. 2006. By 2007 things had developed to the first iteration of the web-based software that has become so powerful now and the old marketing techniques seemed to be taking a back seat. I began using the software again sometime during these early days.

In 2011 the site received a complete reboot – and I once again began using the system. Now, Simpleology has been innovated upon yet again – upgraded to 5.5 and I was lucky enough to be selected as one of the early access users.

I’ve been impressed by Mark’s movement from mind control marketing techniques to creating products that don’t need any mind control to sell.[3] You’ll see some of that old style peering through every once in a while – sometimes you get redirected to pages that encourage you to sign up now and get huge bundles and deals (even within Simpleology). I kind of wish these would go away – but to each his own.

  1. [1]It doesn’t have to be PDF, HTML, DOC, whatever is fine – just something I can read!
  2. [2]He always harped on his time spent in the military working in intelligence and how this provided him with many of the skills he shared regarding MCM.
  3. [3]Not that his earlier products lacked value, just that now his products contain such value that persuasive selling isn’t necessary.

Margin Call (R): Movie Review.

[Okay, this is really only like 25% movie review, 75% my hypothesizing about systemic ills that cause significantly societal dysfunction]

Margin Call is a 2011 film with an a great ensemble cast that includes Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quinto, Simon Baker, Demi Moore, Stanley Tucci, and Aasif Mandvi amongst others. It provides an “inside look” at a Wall Street finances firm during the 2008 financial crisis – albeit a fictional one.

Margin Call - a movie about the 2008 financial crisis.
Margin Call – a movie about the 2008 financial crisis.

The film contains no violence or nudity[1], it does, however, include a boatload of profanity – including religious…and I mean pervasive profanity.

If you are looking for a film that helps explain what happened in 2008 and perhaps one that will rile you up a bit, this is a good film to select – though it is too nuanced to be the sort of rage flick that allows us to direct all our hatred towards abominably evil characters – for that you’ll have to look to  Uwe Boll’s controversial and simplistic film Assault on Wall Street (2013, R).

Margin Call does demonstrate the greed and dishonesty which allowed the collapse to occur. It also highlights the way in which extremely intelligent individuals have been leaving jobs which are highly productive for society (e.g. engineering space craft and bridges) to these financial trading careers which have questionable value for society. It manages to enrage us with the “golden parachutes” many of the “higher-ups” secure for themselves even as they cut their employees off at the knees and leave the common man holding the bag and towards the end John Tuld (Jeremy Irons) characters highlights that the 2008 crash is not a one-time occurrence, but something which has been occurring with great regularity throughout history – and yet has not been stopped and is not being stopped now.

At the same time, it calls us, the common people, to account for our complicity in what occurred. In a powerful scene where Will Emerson (Paul Bettany) and Peter Sullivan (Zachary Quinto) are driving together, Seth notes how devastating the crash will be for “real people” – to which Will explains why Seth should not feel sympathy for the “real people” who essentially pay the financial traders to abstract their dirty work – so they can feel better about themselves. Here is the relevant dialogue (you’ll see what I mean about pervasive profanity):

Seth: “—-, this is going to really affect people.”

Will: “Yeah, it’s gonna affect people like me.”

Seth: “No, Will, real people.”

Will: “—–, Seth. Listen, if you really want to do this with your life, you have to believe you are necessary, and you are. People want to live like this–in their cars and big ——- houses they can’t even pay for, then you’re necessary. The only reason that they all get to continue living like kings is because we’ve got out fingers on the scales in their favor.”

“I take my hand off, then the whole world gets really ——- fair really ——- quickly and nobody actually wants that. They say they do, but they don’t. They want what we have to give them, but they also want to, you know, play innocent and pretend they have no idea where it came from.”

“Well, that’s more hypocrisy than I’m willing to swallow. So —- ’em. —- normal people.”

“You know the funny thing is, tomorrow if all of this goes —- up? They’re going to crucify us for being too reckless. But if we’re wrong, and everything gets back on track, well then, the same people are going to laugh till they piss their pants ‘case we’re gonna look like the biggest ——- God ever let through the door.”

In other words, we desire a certain standard of living, so we engage in questionable practices in order to sustain that level of living – but we remove ourselves from conscious involvement in this unethical behavior by “handing off” the dirty work to the financial traders. We praise them when they do well for us and are horrified when they fail us and/or act unethically.

I have a developing hypothesis about evil. In my experience I find fewer evil people than I expect and more systems which propagate evil. I do not mean to excuse the financial traders for their unethical actions, but only note that removing the unethical (or evil) individuals will not rectify the problem – why? Because the system still exists and the system points incalculable pressure upon the individual to act unethically – thus creating more unethical individuals, which will, naturally, result in more unethical behavior.

I need to read up more on economics and specifically on the stock market – but I tentatively hypothesize that we’d need a fundamental change in the way the stock market operates in order to rectify (at least significantly) this system. This could perhaps be achieved by making investments in stocks somehow (I don’t know how) primarily about deriving profits from profit sharing dividends, rather than the current scenario in which much of what is bought/sold is done so under the philosophy of buy low, sell high – which creates an unsustainable pressure upon companies to continually increase profits (or risk the rage of the stockholder).

The ironic thing is, if I’m right, we are cutting each other off at the knees. Company X lays off 5,000 employees to increase its profits so stockholders don’t sell…the employees are righteously angry. Who are those stockholders? Well, many of them are from Company Y which just cut 5,000 employees to keep their profits increasing (and who are their stockholders? Why people from Company X!). Obviously this is a vast oversimplification…but it seems to me we are demanding increased profits from those we invest in yet at the same time demanding that the companies act in more generous, considerate ways – and in so doing we ask the impossible.

I’d love to hear your thoughts? As I said, I’m no expert on economics or the stock market.

  1. [1]Though two of the characters are briefly at a strip joint, the film (amazingly) chooses not to throw in nudity to attract additional viewers

Some Pretty Awesome Deals from Amazon for eBooks.

Amazon is holding their “The Big Deal” which goes through February 2nd and offers up to 85% off over 600 books. When my brother told me about it, I was hesitant. I’m trying to pair down my library – but ebooks do take up less space than physical books…so maybe I’d take a peak.

I knew that if I did get any books I only wanted the best I knew I wanted to read. Everything else could wait – I’m really trying to only get the books I am going to read and read soon. So, here is my list…of those I bought as well of those I thought looked quite interesting (and actually, I left a huge number off my list, b/c I didn’t want to type all day).

I Bought It…

On Relationships

Self-Help

Counseling

History

Politics

Ministry

Well, It Is About Time: Why Coin Is the Wallet Replacement We’ve Been Looking For…

I don’t like carrying my wallet around. I hate to thing about what sitting with my wallet in my back pocket does to my spine. There are always so many cards and they always want to flop out of my wallet and I can never find the card I’m looking for and on and on it goes.

We are in a technological age where this problem should be easy-peasy to fix, but for the last number of years tech giants and startups alike have fumbled repeatedly in endeavors to launch a technology to replace the traditional wallet with its multitudinous cards…well, it looks like Coin has finally invented the way we will do wallets in the future.

I’m excited about this not only b/c of what it means for the wallet, but also b/c I’m sure I can get a sheath for my phone that will allow me to carry my coin card and drivers license with the phone – getting rid of the annoying wallet altogether.

So how did Coin make something that the tech giants have been failing to do for years? They aren’t trying to move everyone to a new standard (e.g. NFC) but instead are using an the old technology in a new way.

Basically, the Coin card comes with a scanner which can read the information off of credit cards and other striped cards. It stores this information in the Coin card and you can then choose through a display on the card itself which card you want to use at any given moment. The stores you visit don’t need any new technology – as far as they are concerned, the Coin card is just another credit card.

But wait folks, that’s not all. The Coin card also uses Bluetooth to make sure you don’t accidentally leave your card somewhere. If you walk out of a restaurant and forget your Coin card, your phone will alert you that the Coin card is no longer in the vicinity – before you drive all the way home and realize your card is missing.

The Coin isn’t available just yet but it can be pre-ordered at half price ($50 I think) and has a planned release date of Summer 2014.


Free Money! (No, Seriously)

Back in the good old days (late 1990’s) companies like AllAdvantage paid us just for browsing the web (and having a small window that covered the bottom of our screen and rotated ads). I made some money off these programs (I think maybe $100 from AllAdvantage), but due to abuses these programs turned down (folks found ways to automate the process of appearing as if one was using the computer).

Bag of Money, image thanks to mcol and OpenClipart.
Bag of Money, image thanks to mcol and OpenClipart.

Well, it looks like the good old days may be coming back to us – so get in while you can. Okay, honestly, I think at least this company has a more sustainable and less cheatable model. I actually think its a bit of genius and I expect them to do well – though some competitors might come onto the scene who will offer them a run for their money.

What am I talking about? An Android application called Locket. If you have an Android smartphone (e.g. Verizon Droid, Samsung Galaxy, HTC One, and almost all smartphones that aren’t Apple iPhones), you can use this application.

The concept is simple. When you turn on your phone’s screen to take some action (make a phone call, browse the internet, text message, play a game, write a note, check your bank balance) you are immediately presented with the “lock screen.” You may a swipe motion to “unlock” the screen – this “lock” mechanism prevents you (at least theoretically) from accidentally pocket dialing folks.

Locket is a small Android application that “takes over” your lock screen. When you turn on your screen you’ll see an image (an ad). Its unintrusive, oftentimes interesting, and you can unlock like usual. Every (well almost every) time you unlock your phone, Locket gives you $.01.

Granted, that isn’t much. You aren’t going to get rich off this program – but seriously, it doesn’t reduce your productivity at all and I actually find the lock swipe mechanism to be better than that included by default with my Samsung Galaxy S3.

I’ve been using Locket for around 24 hours and have earn $0.18. Hahaha. Yeah, it isn’t much, but lets multiply that times a year: 365 * .18 = $65.70. It still isn’t much – but it almost covers a month with Verizon or AT&T of cell service and you are essentially being paid to do nothing.

I don’t use my phone super frequently. I use it for more than most people do (e.g. note taking, medicine adherence monitoring, banking, health monitoring, and so on) but not as frequently as many (I hate texting and phone calls) – so I imagine that others might earn a fairly easy $150 a year. Nothing to sneeze at, imho.

So, go get it. What does it cost you? No, I’m not getting paid to say this…I just like for people to use good products (and sometimes I do get paid, but not this time). 🙂