40 Reasons You Don't Own a Home (Yet)

I've compiled a list of 40 reasons, from online comments I've received and what I've learned in conversations with prospective buyers and renters. The reasons fall into two main categories: Life Circumstances which are outside your control (12) and Personal Choices (28) which you can control.

Personal choices outweigh Life Circumstances more than two-to-one, which tells me the outcome could be different for many of you... if difference choices are made. If you truly want to buy a house you may want to consider new choices.


1. You have medical bill debt: Unless it's elective cosmetic surgery, medical expense is unavoidable.

2. You've had periods of unemployment or layoffs.

3. You've co-signed on another's loan, then they defaulted: You co-sign to help someone then find yourself 100% responsible for repaying the loan.

4. You've had one or more car accidents: Sometimes not everything is covered by insurance.

5. You've experienced the loss of the family breadwinner: Unless you have an emergency fund, for whatever reason much or all of your household income is lost.

6. You've had a messy divorce: Not counting the legal expenses, two households create an extra financial burden that can deplete savings.

7. You'e experienced the death of a spouse: As a result there us not only income loss, but also extra bills: medical, funeral,

8. You are, or you've been, responsible for the long-term care of a parent or an unwell or special needs child: The responsibility can keep you out of the job market and drain savings.

9. The property taxes + home owner's insurance add another $280 - $350 a month to the mortgage payment, which you may not have anticipated.

10. The cost of utilities to run a home, that were once included with rent payments, are now added to the mortgage payment ($250+) making the purchase prohibitive.

11. The closing costs (transfer tax, attorney fee, tax adjustments) can be prohibitive if they are not planned for, even if there's no down payment required.

12. You've had an inability to reach a better pay scale. Training or education may not be available or affordable, keeping you bound to a lower-paying job.


1. Experiencing a loss of money to crooks and your reluctance to go after it.

2. Incurring student loan debt that could have been avoided by saving up first or working while studying.

3. Being unwilling to supplement your income with a second job.

4. Being unwilling to consider self-employment in addition to full-time employment.

5. Having the mistaken belief that only men should work, not women, thus depriving your family of a second income that could provide a home faster.

6. Going out to eat several times a week rather than saving that money for a down payment.

7. Paying for tattoos and piercings rather than investing that money in the future.

8. Getting hair colored and styled at salons regularly instead of paying off debt or saving.

9. Having your nails done in salons (mani + pedi) instead of doing it yourself at home.

10. Buying late model cars and having car loan debt equal to half your take home pay instead of buying a "beater" with cash and saving for a down payment and closing costs on a home.

11. Staying home to have children right after college instead of working to repay student loan debt.

12. Taking expensive vacations instead of having stay-cations until a down payment is saved.

13. Having addiction to shopping and frivolous spending instead of making do with what you have.

14. Having an addiction to cigarettes which, if you smoke a pack a day, costs $2,500 a year or half a $5,000 down payment.

15. Drinking alcohol on a regular basis could cost the same as smoking or the other half of a $5,000 down payment.

16. Owning an extensive collection of DVDs and movies. (I once interviewed a possible housemate who couldn't pay the rent but he had a collection of 250 DVDs. At $10 a disk, he had paid $2500 which is equal to 5 months rent.

17. Paying $200 a month for cable TV and all the premium channels. At the end of a year, that's another $2500 including taxes.

18. Buying expensive ($600) cell phones + service instead of a cheap Tracfone at $99 a year.

19. Volunteering full-time instead of getting a paying job. Volunteering is a good thing, but not when it deprives you of a home if that's your ultimate goal.

20. Purchasing things – expensive clothes, jewelry, toys, and electronic games – instead of investing in a home and building equity.

21. Insisting on an expensive wedding, reception and honeymoon instead of eloping. Some weddings cost the equivalent of a modest house.

22. Not having knowledge of, or refusing to learn how the how buying process works to become an educated consumer.

23. Maintaining a low credit score because your debt ratio is too high and you rely on credit card usage too much instead of cash.

24. Being unwilling to reveal your complete financial picture to those who could help you finance the purchase of a home.

25. Being unwilling to do free work for the seller in lieu of a down payment.

26. Being unwilling to consider taking in a boarder to defray costs of home ownership.

27. Being unwilling to commit to live in one place permanently.

28. Being unwilling to look into programs set up for first-time home buyers.

If any of the Personal Choices listed apply to you, and you want to own a house, highlight those choices you are willing to change, starting today.
Copyright 2016, Andrea Reynolds, PO Box 9124, Erie PA 16506. (814) 520-5548, All rights are reserved. Ask about reprints and licensing.
Be my patron for as little as $1 a month. Send your comments and future blog post requests to Andrea Reynolds, crisiswriter@gmail.com

$10,000 Reward: Will You Claim it?

On Saturday morning, July 16, the price on my 3 bedroom, Erie PA Cape Cod style house will return to US $115,000... from the much-too-low $89,000.

Anyone – agent or not – who refers a buyer to me whose offer of $115,000 or better is acceptable to me and successfully closes, will receive US $10,000 from me (check) shortly after the closing.

I will do the showing and negotiating. You get a reward – a finders fee – simply for the referral (not a lead).

IMPORTANT: You must tell me the name of the person who you are about to refer to me – before they contact me – so there is no question about who deserves the $10K reward. It's simply a safeguard so the right person receives the reward. Email: crisiswriter@gmail.com

What's included (see below photo):

3518 Post Avenue, Erie PA 16508. All details: www.BitangoHouse.com

Included in the $115,000 price:
  • Lennox gas furnace
  • Bradford White gas water heater
  • Lennox central air conditioner
  • Dish satellite dish
  • Garbage disposer
  • Frigidaire dishwasher
  • Whirlpool gas range
  • Broan range hood
  • Frigidaire refrigerator
  • Igloo upright freezer
  • Haier European size clothes washer
  • Haier European size clothes dryer
  • GE dehumidifier
  • Everstar window AC unit (5,000 BTU) for second floor
  • Craftsman self-propelled lawnmower
  • NordicTrack treadmill
  • Ethan Allen Mahogany china cabinet, 2 piece, with glass shelves and light
  • Storage shed: 8' x 7.5' (Lowe's current price is more than $2,200)
  • 3 Rain barrels + 3 hoses
  • Extra wall paint for touchups
  • Extra kitchen cabinet pieces
  • Extra replacement tiles for kitchen and bath
  • Extra shelves for closets
  • Smoke and CO detectors
  • Sheer curtain panels (14)
  • Blackout drapery panels (8)
  • Drapery rods (4)
  • Curtain rods (8)
  • Solar path lights (8)
  • Shower curtain and rod
  • Closet clothes rods
  • Survey of the property showing boundaries.
  • All appliance use-care manuals

Copyright 2016, Andrea Reynolds, PO Box 9124, Erie PA 16506. (814) 520-5548, All rights are reserved. Ask about reprints and licensing.
Be my patron for as little as $1 a month. Send your comments and future blog post requests to Andrea Reynolds, crisiswriter@gmail.com

6 Ways I Use Finders Fees in Business

© Andrea Reynolds Adapted from a newsletter article I wrote in 1984.

Are you turning away opportunities to earn additional income or benefits? Well, stop that.

One way to generate business is to offer finders fees.

If you're a consultant or professional, or own a business, and you have many business contacts, why not let those contacts earn rewards for helping you increase your business income? So long as there are no conflicts of interest and you're not violating your profession's code of ethics, you can generate goodwill by helping others increase their income as they help you increase yours.

For example, I'm looking to return to the world of public speaking again after a long absence. I'm willing to pay anyone 10%, 15% or 20% of my future speaking fees, depending on the degree of your involvement. (Higher fees for greater involvement.) If you're a member of organizations or a corporation and in a position to refer speakers, this could be lucrative for you.

If I'm offered a $2,500 speaking fee as the direct result of your referral (not a lead), and you actively promote me to the hiring committee or chairperson, You could earn $250, $375 or $500. And if I book another speaking engagement or private consultation as a result of that event, you'll receive an additional finders fee. As my fees increase so can yours... all for making one successful referral.

I've had nice people say, "No, I don't need compensation." But I learned something years ago from an expert on how to stop underearning, Jerrold Mundis,
"Don't say no to money." Why work for free? Karma is nice... but it doesn't pay the bills.

Finders fees are a small price to pay to have someone bring you a corporate account, a speaking engagement, or include you on a team for a large project that results in additional in income for you.
Giving finders fees creates goodwill in your community.


1. Here's my first experience with finders fees. Decades ago I gave a colleague a $70 reward for helping me land a short $700 speaking engagement with a prestigious company. He had already successfully negotiated a contract with the company and had the presence of mind to ask if they needed more speakers for their event. When they said yes, he handed them my brochure. That's all, but it got him 10% of my fee.

2. I gave finders fees to clients who brought me new clients.

3. I received a free photography session for bringing the photographer 5 of my clients.

4. I received a free hair cut after referring 4 continuing clients to a hair stylist.

5. I discount my fees to other consultants who invite me onto their client projects. Then they bill me out at full price, making a profit.

6. When I didn't have time to take on a new client or the work was outside my competency, I referred the project to colleagues, and sometimes, even competitors, who agree to pay me a finders fee.

For a free tip sheet on how to structure finders fees arrangements to increase your income,
send me your email address and I'll send you a PDF. It won't be spontaneous.

Copyright 2016, Andrea Reynolds, PO Box 9124, Erie PA 16506. (814) 520-5548, All rights are reserved. Ask about reprints and licensing.
Be my patron for as little as $1 a month. Send your comments and future blog post requests to Andrea Reynolds, crisiswriter@gmail.com

25 Reasons I Decided to Sell FSBO

1. I'm very isolated here as an outsider. When people come to my house, agents don't let me I talk to them. I feel excluded and invisible.

2. I'm more creative - a lateral thinker - than most agents who are vertical thinkers and who only follow the same system they learned in class.

3. I have more at stake financially than agent: $100,000+ versus the $1,500 they hope to get.

4. Selling my house is my full-time job; not so an agent who wants to have lots of houses to list.

5. I know my house better than anyone and can talk it up better.

6. Without having to give a 5-6% commission to a middleman, I can offer a better price to buyers.

7. I have the liberty of structuring a creative deal, one that an agent isn't interested in considering or offering.

8. I like being in control of my own house. It's still my house as long as I pay the bills and taxes and live in it.

9. With no agent I no longer get calls saying I have to cancel my plans to allow a non-buyer to spend 10 minutes in my home.

10. Without an agent calling the shots, I don't have the stress of having to leave my house and all my worldly goods in the hands of strangers I know nothing about.

11. With FSBO. I no longer feel I am working for my agent, or helping her win a trip to Italy. If I'm the one doing all the work anyway - taking photos, writing text, filling out long forms, staging the house - why have an agent?

12. I don't have to worry about strangers going through my personal things - as has happened - and hiding everything of value off-premises so they can't.

13. By showing the house to buyers myself, I can learn what a couple is looking for and what they don't want. I don't get that information from agents. Usually I have no feedback.

14. I can write what I want about the house - usually more than an agent will - not only on my own website but also on Zillow.

15. I have good marketing skills, usually better than the agents I have retained: I have a degree in marketing and I have sold a timeshare, 2 mobile homes (one in 6 days), a condo and raw land by myself.

16. I may have had more real estate training than most real estate agents who get their licenses in as short as two weeks. I've hosted a weekly talk radio show on real estate on which I interviewed agents and a real estate attorney. I wrote a booklet of 150 home selling tips; I created a website for people to sell their own homes FSBO; I passed the two Pennsylvania real estate courses; I took a course on real estate investing; I studied housing and design in university, taught by an architect; I worked in a architectural supply store giving advice to architecture students in college; and I studied same university courses as two former HGTV hosts.

17. I know how to stage a home because I studied interior design.

18. I'm always available to show a home. I have no other commitments as agents have.

19. I know how to negotiate a win-win deal. I've been a speaker agent, negotiating contracts.

20. I know what has to happen for the sale to close properly. I've been both a buyer and seller of homes.

21. My real estate attorney handles the contracts and documents better than any agent does.

22. I can wait for the best buyer, not rush a sale through for the commission as agents want to do.

23. I have put more effort into selling my house than my agents ever have.

24. I'm interested in selling only one house; agents have multiple house listings so they aren't focused full-time on my house.

25. I don't have other interests that take up my time; but agents have kids and husbands who also demand their attention. And agents like to go on vacations. I must stay focused on selling the house until it sells.

22 Things I've Done to Sell My House

To attract house buyers to my 3-bedroom, Post Avenue, Cape Cod home in southwest Erie PA – www.BitangoHouse.com – I have:


1. Beautified the house by adding landscaping, painting the front porch and steps,
2. Fixed the basement rain seepage by adding 3 rain barrels outside to divert water,
Installed new appliances: dishwasher, gas range, refrigerator, range hood,
4. Added central air conditioning,
5. Gutted and renovated the second floor,
6. Built an 8’ x 7.5’ storage shed in the side yard,
7. Retained the services of 3 consecutive real estate agents (Fail),
8. Reduced the price from $121,000 to below what I paid 5 years ago before additions and renovations: $99,000 (Fail),
Advertised the house For Sale By Owner (FSBO),
10. Promoted a home giveaway essay contest: 10 sentence “essay” + $10 entry fee that would give all non-winning entrants $20 worth of my books (Fail),
11. Promoted a second home giveaway essay contest to businesses: 3 sentences + $1,000 entry fee that would give all non-winning entrants $2,000 worth of my marketing services or lectures (Fail),
12. Promoted a third home giveaway contest: 3 sentences and no entry fee and I would raise $150,000 by working to compensate me for the house (Fail),
13. Included dehumidifier, upright freezer, NordicTrack treadmill in the $115,000,
14. Buried a St. Joseph statue in the front yard,
15. Advertised to rent the second floor to one LECOM student (Fail),
Advertised to rent the whole house to LECOM students (Fail),
17. Offered seller financing with no down payment (Fail),
18. Offered an evening seminar to first-time buyers: Seller Financing: How you can afford to buy Andrea’s house even when banks say no, and make a legal offer (Fail),
19. Offered a $500 finders fee to any non-agent friend who sends me a buyer (Fail),
20. Offered a 3% commission to agents who referred a buyer with no involvement (Fail),
21. Reduced the price from $99,000 to $89,000 as a short test (July 6 until July 15 only). Cash sale or bank financing only, no agents, no commissions; letter showing pre-approval only.
22. Offered agents a $10,000 finders fee if they refer a buyer to me who closes successfully on the price of $115,000 or better (after July 15).

Copyright 2016, Andrea Reynolds, PO Box 9124, Erie PA 16506. (814) 520-5548, All rights are reserved. Ask about reprints and licensing.
Be my patron for as little as $1 a month. Send your comments and future blog post requests to Andrea Reynolds, crisiswriter@gmail.com

24 Potential Revenue Streams So Far

Don't expect your income to come from only one source. That's "putting all your eggs in one basket." Drop the basket and all the eggs break. To protect yourself diversify your income portfolio. In other words, create multiple streams of revenue.

After my father died I discovered he invested 100% of his money in the stock market, nothing else. Had he diversified, he would not have lost more than a million dollars (85% of his portfolio) when GM went bankrupt. The Lesson: Diversify.

I screwed up, too. I invested all my savings in two houses. I have no mortgages, but I haven't been able to sell or rent them either. Like father, like daughter.

So, as of today, I've given up trying to sell the houses. (They won't sell themselves; that's magical thinking.) For now I will stay where I am. Instead, I'm putting my efforts and energy into creating multiple passive income streams, no matter how small.

I thought you would like to see how I'm creating income for myself, starting from 'way below poverty level. Let's see where I am at the end of 2016.

Andrea's Revenue Streams
Keep in mind I'm only now starting over after full-time, unpaid parent care, estate administration (2008-2015) and full-time attempts to sell my house (2014-2016). You'll see I have a long way to go to begin to cover basic expenses on two houses... but I will.

CURRENT This is my total income for the first half of 2016:
Bank Interest: $9.00 ($1.50 per month)
Stock Dividends, 3 shares of Apple:
$3.33 ($1.65 average per quarter)
Canada Pension + Old Age Security Pension:
$1396.00 (Average US $349.00 per month)
Property Tax Rebate for Seniors:
$650.00 one-time per year.
LIHEAP one-time heating grant: $
$20.00 one-time fee.
Contents Sales:
$719.00 www.AndreasEstate.com Click here.
Book sales:
$228.54 www.BitangoBooks.com Click here.
Selling one-of-a-kind jewelry:
$37.00 www.GilliansGems.com Click here.

FUTURE I'll start work on these next; nothing yet:
Public speaking Click here.
Private consulting
Click here.
Classes, lectures and seminars in my home
Click here.
Guests at Authors Bed & Breakfast
Click here:
Click here.
Ghostwriting: www.BitangoBooks.com
Click here.
Voluntary Patrons:
Click here
Editing + proofreading: www.BitangoBooks.com
Click here.
Collecting from companies what I've "overpaid" them: www.RestitutionService.com
Click here
House for sale or rent: www.BitangoHouse.com
Click here
Amazon Affiliate: Not set up yet
Clickbank Affiliate: Not set up yet
Bluehost Affiliate: (web hosting) Not set up yet
Amazon Kindle sales: Not set up yet
Social Security benefits: Not eligible

Today's recommended resource: Start Your Own Personal Services or Concierge Business Buy it, read it, act on it.
Copyright 2016, Andrea Reynolds, PO Box 9124, Erie PA 16506. (814) 520-5548, All rights are reserved. Ask about reprints and licensing.

Be my patron for as little as $1 a month. Send your comments and future blog post requests to Andrea Reynolds, crisiswriter@gmail.com

9 Things to Know About Seller Financing

If you're selling your home FSBO (For Sale By Owner) and have a buyer who is not able to get conventional bank financing, and you’re willing to be creative and flexible… and take a risk, you can make whatever terms you want. As the seller, you become the bank.

This is the 3-bedroom house I have for sale. Make an offer!

Perhaps your buyer has too low a credit score to meet bank criteria, but has cash for a down payment and can make good-sized monthly payments. If they have steady employment that pays well you may consider offering them non-traditional terms. Everything is negotiable.

Risks: Some other risks to be aware of: The buyer is self-employed. The buyer is employed in a high-risk profession where his/her job could be cut. The buyer is in a dangerous profession: military, law enforcement, car racing. The buyer is a single parent who doesn’t work but receives alimony and child support. The buyer is older and on a fixed income. The buyer is a full-time student who also works. The buyer doesn’t work but has a trust fund or inheritance. The buyer won a big settlement or lottery windfall.

Purchase Price: As the seller you can make the purchase price whatever the two parties agree upon. If you’re selling FSBO you could lower the selling price somewhat since you won’t need to give a 5-6% commission to a real estate agent.

Chattel: As the seller you can raise the price by including appliances, furniture, furnishings, window treatments, additional buildings on the property, above-ground pool, vehicles, and even livestock, if you choose. Or you can ask for cash for these rather than have them included in the mortgage; or if the buyer doesn’t have much cash you can add these to the purchase price. You can also subtract items.

Down Payment: As the seller you can make the down payment any amount you want. You can lower the percentage from 20% to 10% to 5% to 3% or even 0%. A down payment doesn’t have to be cash, but could be a vehicle, a boat, an RV, artwork, or even a cabin in the woods… if you’re willing to trade. You can even require the buyer to perform services for you in lieu of cash. Of course the service must be legal. No "funny business."

Interest Rate: As the seller you can increase or decrease the mortgage percentage rate, but be careful of usury laws in your state. You cannot implement a rate of interest that is excessively high. For example: Pennsylvania caps the interest rate at 6%.

2016-05-30 17.20.11
This is my other house for sale. Feel free to make an offer.

Amortization Schedule: As the seller you can make the amortization 10 years, 15 years or 30 years if you wish. You may wish to go with 15 years with a balloon payment at the end of 2 or 3 years. By that time the buyer will have made 24 or 36 on-time payments with a lower amount to be mortgaged at the end and can then secure bank financing.

Other Terms: Both seller and buyer can negotiate the closing date, possession date, and almost anything you can think of. If a buyer is creative he/she may want to make multiple offers – high, low and middle – so that you can pick the one you prefer. Some buyers even include a letter to the seller explaining their intentions with the house.

Who keeps the title? Just as a bank would you, the seller, keep the title until the entire amount is paid off. If the buyer is able to get a conventional loan at the end of the 36 (or 24 or 48 months) you, the seller, relinquish the title to the bank when you’ve been paid in full at the closing.

What happens if the buyer defaults? If the buyer defaults on payments, you as the seller can foreclose on the buyer and take back the house. This requires legal assistance; you cannot do this alone unless you are a qualified attorney. Choose an honorable buyer and you won’t have to foreclose.

CANCELED DUE TO LACK OF INTEREST: Seminar, June 30, 6 PM www.BitangoHouse.com/class.html

OUTCOME: Failure. No potential buyers signed up for my class to learn how to buy a house with seller financing and how to write a proper offer. After a few discussions, no offers were received to buy or rent the house. I won't be offering the class again.

Today's recommended resource: Sell Your Mobile Home in Fewer Than 60 Days Buy it, Read it, Act on it.
Copyright 2016, Andrea Reynolds, PO Box 9124, Erie PA 16506. (814) 520-5548, All rights are reserved. Ask about reprints and licensing.
Be my patron for as little as $1 a month. Send your comments and future blog post requests to Andrea Reynolds, crisiswriter@gmail.com

Creative payment options for clients

Copyright 2015-2016 Andrea Reynolds

Have you had potential clients say they can't afford your rates? Have you wondered if you should lower your rates to accommodate those people out of fear they may just walk away? Don't.

I don't. I offer a range of payment options that may appeal to them instead. If none of these will work for them, that tells me they didn't want to pay me in the first place and only wanted free services. We're not in business to provide free services. If we were, we'd be a charity, not a business. Or a fairy godmother.

Canadian bills

Here are the 13 payment options I offer new, current and former clients:

1. US cash

2. Canadian cash

3. Postal money order

4. Check in US funds

5. Check in Canadian funds

6. Paypal in US funds

7. Paypal in Canadian funds

8. Layaway installments

9. Grocery store gift cards: Tops, Wegman's, Giant Eagle, Aldi, Whole Foods.

10. Restaurant gift cards: Cracker Barrel, Chipotle, Panera, Starbucks.

11. Phone cards: TracFone.

12. Other store cards: Lowe's, Walmart, Home Depot, Amazon, Best Buy, Shell Gas, Apple iTunes.

13. S
hares of company stock at that day's valuation if it pays dividends and if it's on NASDAQ, NYSE, TSE (Toronto), VSE (Vancouver). Suggestions: Apple (AAPL), Verizon (VZ), Tim Horton (THI), Panera Bread (PNRA).

I think I've made it pretty easy to pay me. Some people will still walk away, but perhaps fewer people will have an excuse now for not hiring me. Or you!

Want to republish/reprint this blog post? First let's talk about a licensing agreement. I'm a professional writer and I sell my writing.

It pays to retain me... this story tells why

By Andrea Reynolds From the archives © 2010-2016

Are we too skeptical and suspicious to accept genuine kindness and generosity? I conducted an experiment for 13 years - and told everyone about it - to see how receptive people will be to helping an older woman start over. This is after helping police stop criminal activity and losing everything as consequence of my being a good citizen. To acquire only a safe place to park my van, a little water and electricity, I’ve offered very generous tasks and services to people who are financially comfortable as well as to those who are not. I’ve been documenting my experiences for a future book because, despite announcing upfront exactly what I’m doing, 99% of my offers have been rebuffed.

When I heard about a local man who died in his home a week before anyone noticed, I was sad that he’d been so alone. So in February I was surprised when his sister called me from California. I didn’t know her, but wanted to help any way I could. Her brother was a hoarder and she wanted someone to clean out the house and stage it for sale. Having those skills, I was willing to do it for no charge just to have a driveway to park in where I could sleep safely at night. I knew the house could be worth $100,000 if fixed up and I knew my de-cluttering and interior design services – my degree is the same as some HGTV hosts - would add another $10,000 in value to the home and sell it faster despite its being a stigmatized property. I expected no payment, yet she blew me off!

Yesterday (August) I drove by the house, saw that the property had never received any attention, and found a sold sign in front. I looked up the listing to find the list price was $32,000. I determined that if the house did sell for that much the owner - the one who blew me off - likely received $30,000 after the agent’s commission. Had she allowed me to do the work for free to allow me a place to park and allow me to document the progress of my work for my portfolio on this web site to show future prospective clients, she may have netted an additional $75,000 for just saying yes to me. Her refusal to be kind-hearted deprived her of a $75,000 gift from me.

Not only that, but with loans perhaps I could have bought the house from her for $30,000 in February when she called me and she would have had her $30,000 five months earlier. But she had refused to give me the address or a key so I could even look at it inside and out. (In June I found both the address and a photo of the home in a newspaper article. Too late)

My book will be filled with these stories of self-defeating choices. And all I wanted was a safe driveway to park in and an opportunity to acquire testimonials for doing good work so I could begin to land paying assignments.

Sadly, no longer will I be able to provide free work. I need to charge for my services because I have expenses to have a roof over my head in the bitter cold winter. But with my creative mind there is usually something else of value I can do for clients that is unexpected and sometimes outrageously delightful.

My advice? Be cautious, but before you reject a proposal out-of-hand, research who the person is and what they are asking in return. It’s not always a case of if-it-sounds-too-good-to-be-true-IT-IS. If you let your skepticism guide your decision-making, you may deprive yourself of valuable gifts from someone with a good heart and good character. (Like me.)

Andrea Reynolds has stopped working on her book, The Kindness Experiment. She offered to share 40% of the book’s profits with early buyers, but stopped after 6 months due to public skepticism. The plan now is to write Missed Blessings once she has sold her house and has some time available to write for herself.

Want to republish/reprint this blog post? First let's talk about a licensing agreement. I'm a professional writer and I sell my writing.

7 ways to kill a publishing deal

© Copyright Andrea Reynolds 2012-2014 All rights reserved.

You may know that a few years ago I launched the second book publishing company in my career: Bitango Books. After both parents passed away in 2011, my mother’s copyrights to her two successful books passed to me, as did her unpublished manuscript for a “racy” novel, as well as my father’s letters home from the Pacific in World War II. So it made sense for me to create a new publishing vehicle for their works, my own future books, and works of other nonfiction authors.

I bring to the table 4 critical skills:

a) The ability to successfully fund publishing projects from angel investors before the book is written (3 times),

b) My 33 years’ experience marketing authors and their books in the national/international press and media,

c) My 12 years of editing books for other authors, and

d) My 21 years’ experience representing and negotiating better contracts for speakers (fees, amenities and terms).

I self-published my first book in 1982 so I think my qualifications speak for themselves.

My new publishing company is somewhat unconventional. (Bitango means rogue or gypsy.) I did offer a small advance against bigger royalties than most traditional publishers and offered contracts that are fair to authors. (I’m a member of the National Writers Union myself.) Not only do I at Bitango Books advocate for you as a paid speaker but I also created a free-standing web site for authors on which to promote their books.

In return I hoped to see authors make an effort. So when they did some of the following, I have to think they were standing in their own way and may have been difficult to work with or “high maintenance.”

Here are some behaviors I saw that will turn off any publisher:

1. Don’t have a body of written and published work that can be easily accessed. Publishers need to see that you can write well consistently and that others have deemed you publishable.

2. Don’t send a copy of the manuscript when a publisher has invited you to send it for consideration. How else can we evaluate your book and offer a contract?

3. Don’t tell us your web site address, Twitter name, or Facebook link. Keep them secret so we can’t follow and friend you.

4. Don’t tell us the size of your manuscript so we know how big or small it is in words or pages.

5. Say, “No thanks, I want to secure an agent first” when we say we’d like to see your manuscript. The point of having an agent is to get publishers to ask to see your manuscript. You got us to do that, why reject the invitation?

6. Don’t have a written marketing plan for your book. If you don’t have an inkling as to how to get your book into reader’s hands how will a publisher know you have written a book that is marketable to your audience?

7. Don’t trust the publisher’s expertise and experience. Some authors have submitted manuscripts for which they have paid dearly for bad editing, ugly cover design, and a messy layout and insist we not change anything prior to publication. And, if a manuscript gets the message across in 50,000 words, why insist on publishing 90,000 words?

These seven behaviors and others seem to be prevalent among new authors. This told me I should seriously think about teaching seminars and offering one-on-one (paid) consultations for new authors to stop them from getting in the way of their book publishing success.

Think like a publisher. Authors, the less you do to provide what a publisher needs to know the smaller the advance and the lower the royalty payment. And the reverse is true: the more you provide to a publisher, the greater the possibility of a signed contract, larger advance, faster publication and larger royalty.


Andrea Reynolds is a blogger and how-to author. She has decided to be the only author. All her titles are found here:

Want to republish/reprint this blog post? First let's talk about a licensing agreement. I'm a professional writer and I sell my writing.

What to do with your unwanted timeshare

© Andrea Reynolds, 2005 - 2014. From the archives.

A few years ago my elderly father gave up traveling and decided his two week (back-to-back) Labor Day timeshares on the coast of North Carolina were costing him $1,000 a year in maintenance fees. He had paid two "timeshare advertising companies" upfront at least $500 each to sell his shares for him. That was a waste of money. Months went by and all they did was print a tiny ad in tiny type which was lost in a large catalog of other unwanted timeshares.

So I took on the task. I posted six photos of the timeshare unit, its location, description and map on my
web site and waited to see what would happen. Yes, this is passive selling, but it cost me, and Dad, nothing. In a little over a year someone contacted me and offered $3,000 which was the current value of the points. I knew we would not likely find another buyer so I urged my father to accept, and to handle the transaction, they used a local lawyer in the same town as the timeshare. There was no realtor commission to pay, just the lawyer fee which was nominal.

One day I heard
Clark Howard say on his radio show that there was no way his caller was going to be able to sell her timeshare and urged her to just give it as a gift to family members. Obviously, I only partly agree.

My father could have done that: he could have just given me his two weeks and then I would have had a lovely vacation spot that would have cost me only $1,000 in annual maintenance fees. I could have stayed in it, or traded it for a different location.

• If you have two children and own two timeshares, it would be somewhat easy to split them between the two. And of course, if you have only a one-week timeshare that sleeps six, perhaps your adult children could share.

• Yes, you could sign over a timeshare week to your children as a
wedding gift so they have a free honeymoon location (for the rest of their lives).

• Or you could simply allow friends to use your week for a fair payment for
honeymoons and vacations. If you can break even on renting it out, you can keep the timeshare in your name for years to come.

• You can designate family members as beneficiaries of your timeshares in
your Will.

• Or you could
donate unwanted timeshares to your local PBS station and let the station figure out a way to sell the timeshares for cash (if they are willing to take it).

• Or put your timeshare in their annual fundraising auction to offer to subscribers. Consider
other charities that accept vehicles as donated items.

If you give away a timeshare, you don't make money, but you stop having a money drain from the annual fees, and if you
talk to your accountant, there may be a tax advantage in giving it or donating it. If you donate it, be sure to get a receipt from the recipient with a date on it.

And of course, if you insist on selling it, there is eBay, Craigslist, Kijiji, and some local buy/sell groups on Facebook, etc. Those may involve an element of danger - both physically and financially - and I'm not sure I'd attempt to sell anything of significant value that way. I've encountered a number of scammers on those sites and an elderly person who is trusting may not fare well with a masterful scammer.

So giving away your timeshare(s) may be less hassle in the long run. But keep in mind not everyone wants to own timeshares even if they can trade for a more desired location.

But if your timeshare is sitting vacant, I'd be happy to use it so it doesn't go to waste. ;-)



Money blogger Andrea Reynolds doesn't have another timeshare to sell you, but she is renovating a 2 bedroom bungalow which will be for sale in a few months. She is the author of Sell Your Mobile Home in 60 Days or Less and Save $500 to $6000 on Agent Fees. The 150 tips work for all kinds of homes. Order your copy here: www.AndreaReynolds.com/sellhome.html

Want to republish/reprint this blog post? First let's talk about a licensing agreement. I'm a professional writer and I sell my writing.

Freecycle can help you start over simply and cheaply

© Andrea Reynolds 2009-2014; From the archives

Question: I lost everything in a fire and had no insurance. How do I replace appliances I need without expense? I don't want to ever be attached to things again and want to spend as little as possible.

Andrea's Answer: Consider asking your local Freecycle group for what you need. Go to Freecycle.org and find your local online group. Once you join you will start receiving postings of items that people want to get rid of that may or may not be working. If there is something you need immediately you can post a request. Some groups allow only one request per person per week, or 4 item requests per month, but most of the time someone has something you can use.

When I left everything behind (again) to return to Canada I was dependent on Freecycle for basic things like a bed, lamps, and small appliances like an iron, coffeemaker and a small vacuum. Many items, like the vacuum, and more recently a countertop toaster-convection oven, just need a thorough cleaning and they will work beautifully. The coffee maker went through about 4 cycles with vinegar and clear water to clear out all the debris including a dead spider. I cleaned the outside with scouring powder and it looked pretty good. It came without a coffee pot, but someone had given me one that fit perfectly. It had a tiny leak but I just place it on a shallow pan and voila! it's back in use.

Freecycle decor
Items in this photo were all received from Freecycle: clock, lamp, phone, shelf, chalk board, fish tank stand, and the basket below the "telephone table."

The vacuum needed some intensive picking apart, but once all the stuff clogging it was removed it had good suction again. The toaster oven was a little gummy from baked on grease, but I sprayed the removal pan with oven cleaner to get off all the baked-on stains and cleaned the outside with one of those "eraser" sponges. It looks new. I was able to find an instruction manual online and download it so I'm now in business and don't have to use my full oven to heat items like fish sticks that don't taste good out of the microwave.

So if you're willing to do a little fixing and cleaning, someone else's throw-aways become useful workhorses again at no monetary cost to you but the gas - or pedal power if you have a bicycle - it takes to go pick up the item. If you're handy you can restore items that others don't have the patience for.

Comments? crisiswriter@gmail.com

Money blogger Andrea Reynolds also owns a small business,
HandyAnde.com, where she will declutter and organize your home for more harmony and serenity in your environment. Contact her for an appointment.

Want to republish/reprint this blog post? First let's talk about a licensing agreement. I'm a professional writer and I sell my writing.

8 Ways to reclaim your own money

© Andrea Reynolds 2009-2016; From the archives

In a recession money becomes more precious. We’re more careful to find ways to spend it wisely. Yet I continue to see smart people abandoning money. I know this because I see authors, speakers, and experts who expect no payment for their work even when payment is available. When I decided to pursue damages after my constitutional rights were violated resulting in no income for several years, my friends all tried to convince me that I should let the money go and forget about it. Why? Should Bernie Madoff’s victims just forget about their losses? I hope not.


While you may not have lost millions or hundreds of thousands of dollars, you can recover several thousand dollars over the course of a year. That money could pay off a debt, buy groceries for a year, or cover multiple mortgage payments. Why deny yourself your own money?

The following eight suggestions may bring you small amounts of money for a little effort and time, yet when added up, could bring you a significant sum of “bonus” money.

Overcharges. Check hotel bills and grocery bills. If you were overcharged you’re entitled to a refund of the overpayment, and some stores will give you the product free and/or give you double your money back.

Overpayments. Did you pay your utility company more money than you owed before you moved out of state? Maybe you threw the statement into a box before you moved and never gave it another thought. And maybe you forgot to notify the utility company of your new address.

Unreturned deposits. Perhaps you left an apartment and never received your security or key deposit. That’s your money. Write a letter and insist on payment. If you posted a $100 security deposit with a utility company, get it back.

Unpaid invoices. Did you do work for a client who never paid? Did you earn commissions that you never received? Follow through with documentation, and remind them that you still expect payment.

Payment made on services not provided. Did you pay a retainer to a professional but they didn’t show up. Don’t just forget it, get it back.

Price matches.  Take the time to check out prices in various stores even after you have purchased an item, like a camera, lawnmower, or a bed. If the store has a price match guarantee, take your receipt and proof of a competitor’s better price, and ask for the difference.

Unpaid loans. Did you give up trying to recover money lent to a friend? If they are doing well now ask them to start paying you back in regular installments.

Damages. If a dentist breaks your tooth while drilling, insist on payment for the extra cost of repairing or replacing the tooth. If someone plagiarized your work, invoice him for stealing your intellectual property.

If you treat money with respect, more of it will show up in your life. Say yes to recovering your own money.

Comments? crisiswriter@gmail.com

Several years ago money blogger Andrea Reynolds launched a service – www.RestitutionService.com – to assist individuals in recovering large amounts of money swindled from them. Not a lawyer, she has had a very high success rate so far, without employing bullying tactics, insults or harassment. If you've lost money to someone perhaps Andrea can help you get it back.

Want to republish/reprint this blog post? First let's talk about a licensing agreement. I'm a professional writer and I sell my writing.

The Family Size isn't always the better deal

© Andrea Reynolds 2009-2014; From the archives, July 2008

Pay attention to pricing and you could save a few more bucks on your grocery bill each week. Here are two experiences I had when grocery shopping in just one store. I expected that family sizes and packages of several items would be priced lower per unit. Ha! Not always.

Instead, I noticed that when I wanted to buy a 1.8 kg box of frozen lasagna for $14.99, that two boxes of 900 gram lasagna (same item, same mfr., same quantity) cost $6.99 each or $1.01 less than the family size box. What I liked is that with the smaller size, if I bought two singles, I could cook one and store one in the freezer.

I also found that I could buy 4 separate, single-use cameras for $1.00 less than if I bought the package of 4 identical cameras. So you're paying more to have only one item in your shopping cart. And you're paying less for more packaging. It's the opposite of my thinking, and perhaps yours, too. But the one advantage to paying more, if you can call it one: having 4 cameras count as one item could possibly get you into the "8 Items or Fewer" line. (And yes, fewer is the correct word.)


Want to republish/reprint this blog post? First let's talk about a licensing agreement. I'm a professional writer and I sell my writing.

A Bigger home is not the only solution to your space problem

© Andrea Reynolds 2009-2014; From the archives, July 27, 2010

Do we really need 5 bedroom, 3 bathroom, 3-car garage homes to house our families and our stuff? Put another way, do we really need bigger mortgages if we’re already in debt? Let me tell you about the Paulsons. (Not their real name.) After forty years they still live in their first and only house.


When they first married they rented a second floor apartment while saving for a down payment. When they did buy, it was a small bungalow on a quiet street. To have enough room for their three kids they spaced them so only two kids were living at home at the same time. They didn’t have pets. When their things took up too much room in the house, they reorganized their basement storage, held yard sales, gave things to the church for its rummage sales, and donated outgrown clothes to charity.

Soon after their 25th wedding anniversary their mortgage was paid off. They lived within their means despite several job layoffs, earned two college degrees in the family, and have lived debt-free for the past 15 years. Their children never felt cramped.

Only in their early 60’s the Paulsons’ retirement years will be a cakewalk because they weren’t bitten by the bigger-is-better bug. Did you know that many self-made millionaires live comfortably in modest homes? (Warren Buffet, for example.) You probably know that the trend now is to live in tiny homes. Tiny, as in less than 144 square feet. Do a search on “tiny homes” and you’ll find custom home manufacturers are building homes 10 feet by 10 feet.

If you think you can’t live without your stuff, try this. Rent a storage unit, fill it with anything you don’t need for cooking, sleeping, eating, or working, and don’t use what’s inside for a month. You may be surprised at what you don’t need, and happier with fewer possessions around you.

Comments? crisiswriter@gmail.com

Money blogger Andrea Reynolds has lived in a space of only 45 square feet but currently lives in 1300 square feet. She is the author of No Surprises: 365 Critical Questions You Need to Ask Each Other Before You Marry… and how to ask them. Readers should order two copies each: www.AndreaReynolds.com/365ques.html

Want to republish/reprint this blog post? First let's talk about a licensing agreement. I'm a professional writer and I sell my writing.

4 Spinoffs from Selling My Mobile Home

© Andrea Reynolds, From the archives: July 29, 2010

Eight years ago, when I needed to sell my second mobile home and realtors were only complicating my life, I created
a website to advertise it myself. I found a domain name that clearly defined the site’s purpose. I’d already sold my first mobile home without a realtor in 6 days, so I had some credibility.

On the website I posted a long, bulleted description of my home, a list of contents I could include in the sale, a dozen color photos of the interior and exterior, a map of the area, directions to the front door, the price, and what it would cost to live there.


To add more content I posted other mobile homes for-sale-by-owner in my neighborhood for a small fee. If someone wanted to buy nearby, but didn’t want my home, I figured I’d help others who wanted to sell their mobile homes. Then I started receiving payments from mobile home owners in other states who wanted me to advertise their homes. Suddenly I was operating a business.

I discovered most sellers didn’t know how to market their homes as well as I did to entice buyers to make an offer. How could I help them? I created two digital products to sell: a
booklet of 120 tips I used to sell my first mobile home in 6 days, and a set of purchase agreement forms to sign when a verbal offer came in. People started buying them.

Once my home sold and I didn’t need the website, I decided to sell it. I held out a year for a reasonable price and received an offer for more than I expected. This turnkey operation included the right to sell my two digital products for the life of the website, but I kept affiliate and resell rights for myself. I won’t say what the selling price was, but it was enough to cover my truck payments for 18 months.

Do you have a no-longer-needed web site you could sell?

Comments? crisiswriter@gmail.com

Money blogger Andrea Reynolds took back the website she sold (BuyMyMobileHome.org) and is offering it for sale again along with licensing rights to her booklet, Sell Your Mobile Home in Fewer Than 60 Days. Make her an offer: crisiswriter@gmail.com

Want to republish/reprint this blog post? First let's talk about a licensing agreement. I'm a professional writer and I sell my writing.

Earn money from your blog with tips booklets

© Andrea Reynolds 2009-2014; From the archives: August 1, 2010

Unless you’re Marcus Frind, creator-owner of the dating site, PlentyofFish.com, you probably won’t receive million dollar checks from Google Adsense, as he does. (Source: Interview, CBC TV’s “The Hour,” 4/8/09.) A better bet would be to write something once and sell it many times to many blog readers for a reasonable price.


Think about a subject you’re passionate about and know a great deal about. Then sit down and write 100 or more tips on that subject. Each tip should be no more than 3 sentences, preferably only one sentence, and should start with a verb.

Here’s an example of a tip from my report, “33 Amenities Speakers Deserve”: Advise your speakers right away of significant program changes and additions: times, audience numbers, location, other speakers who may possibly speak on a similar subject. To arrive at an empty hall or follow another speaker who has just delivered her speech is a speaker’s nightmare!

A simple kitchen tip might be: Turn nearly-empty salad dressing bottles upside- down in the fridge so the contents will be easier to access the next time. Having the bottle neck at the bottom may also allow you to cram one more item into the fridge door shelf.

Brainstorm 100 or so tips on one specific subject, separate them under sub-headings, add an introduction and some wrap-up remarks, include a bio with your qualifications for writing this booklet and your contact information. Get someone to proofread your booklet, and if necessary, have an editor make the copy sing.

Now you’re an author. Price your new information product somewhere between $5 and $12, and post a description of it on your blog’s sidebar. If your readers like your blog they may buy your booklet, too. Later you may want to write a sequel or even a series of booklets on the same subject.

Comments? crisiswriter@gmail.com

Money blogger Andrea Reynolds has been a professional writer and editor for more than 3.5 decades. The author of numerous tips booklets herself, she has been known to take clients’ handwritten manuscripts and turn them into tips booklets for them… when asked, and paid.

Want to republish/reprint this blog post? First let's talk about a licensing agreement. I'm a professional writer and I sell my writing.