Charity pledge for education update, July-August 2014

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Since I started Make Money Your Way mid 2013, I took a pledge to give 10% of my blogging income to support children education in my village. As you may have read in a previous update about the project, I gave two scholarships to the best two students of middle school so they can go to high school 150 miles away for the next three years.

The expected cost for boarding school is around $2,500 per kid, per year, so $15,000 over the next three years. Yep, I need to make $150,000 blogging :).

Last time I updated I had $1,305. Add to that my July contribution $464  and August $490, I have $2,259.

 

 

Book and computer project

July has been a great month, as we have received a fantastic parcel from a New York teenager who wanted to help. Her dad said he would match her donations, so she saved hard from her part time job to send a big bag of school supplies over to us.

school supplies guatemala

She also sent her old laptop which has been a perfect addition to the computer project.

Guatemala computer charity

July was expensive because I paid for more internet classes and data than usual. The kids were partly off from school, so they were allowed to watched music clips and play online games, which sucked a lot of data. I also had my brother over, so he was able to provide more hours of computer classes than usual, with the Spanish girl who usually teaches as a backup.

The kids love the computer project, and at the moment I pay the girl 12 hours per week to supervise 4-5 kids per hour. They learn how to make powerpoint presentations about the local fauna, do speed search contests where she asks a question and the first one to find the answer on Google wins, and the smaller ones play educational games to learn how to manage the mouse and other basic tasks.

Over 50 kids benefit from it each week, and having an extra computer will allow 12 more kids to get their weekly hour of computer.

 

Every time they go to computer class, they go back home with a book, and bring it back the next time. They love reading so much, some of they have already read all the 100+ books I got them! So I bought some more. The cost of books is still very high, so maybe next time I go to Miami or Mexico I’ll try to bring some. I had bought comics mostly last time so this time I bought fairy tales to encourage girls reading.

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As the school year was already half way through, I decided to give the school supplies I received to an orphanage two hours away. The place is called Ahicam and provides a safe place to kids placed by a judge after being taken from an abusive home. Some other kids are orphans, and some of the foster girls who are only 11 or 12 come there pregnant (sometimes from a much older family member to make matters worse) so there are babies too.

The couple who runs the place recently got donated a well dug by the engineers who dug mine, as I explained we paid for the well and with the profits they dig free wells for people who are in need. So that is how I heard about their projects and decided to help.

Before getting there, I bought four stacks of 500 sheets of paper so the kids could draw, thinking they may not have paper, which they did not, I also added to the donation 50 or so notepads, and about a hundred pens and pencils.

donate school supplies

I also bought the kids around 50 stuffed animals, for a couple of dollars each at the paca, the local second hand store. I wanted to buy some toys too but the choice was limited, and for the $100-ish I spent on stuffed animals, I would have had only a few bad quality made in China games at the regular toy store.

donate toys guatemala

Lastly, as the generous donor had sent some stickers and rubber bands to make bracelets (looks like it is all the rage all around the world but I was not cool enough to notice!) I bought some more rubber bands at a local shop so all the kids could have a bracelet.

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My brother and I had a great time making them with the kids at the orphanage.

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Total expenses for July and August (internet, staff, books and orphanage donation): $813. It was an expensive month, now I am thinking about stopping the book buying for a while, otherwise I may not have enough to pay for boarding school and the computer project that is over $650 per month. I did the extra purchases with donations I received, almost $3,000 in total from readers and friends (THANK YOU!), but I want to keep some wiggle room as $650/month is more than 10% of my income. With about 150 books and the 300 textbooks I was donated they have enough to read for a few months anyway.

 

Big textbook donation

After last month’s update, one of the readers, Lisa, suggested I get in touch with charities that donate books in Guatemala. So I did, and contacted half a dozen NGOs. Most of them don’t work in Northern Guatemala, as we are 300 miles away from the capital city where they coordinate efforts, and generally they have projects in the highlands.

But a couple offered that next time they order books I can enjoy their discount and buy books through them, which is still a nice saving.

And one of them called Cooperative for Education generously donated… 300 textbooks! Middle school spans over 3 years, and you need 4 books: Math, Litterature, Science and Social Science. That is 12 books, and they donated all 12 times 25, so 24 students and their teacher can each have a book.

I went to pick them up at their Guatemala City headquarters. They had prepared it all neatly in boxed to fill my car trunk:

book donation guatemala

Thank you so much, Coeduc! Here is a link to  Coeduc’ blog if you would like to learn more about their projects.

These are the students and teacher who helped me unload the books at the school in my village.

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They will use the books next year so the students don’t have to buy books for the full three years of middle school! In the meanwhile they will use the books for additional research and information. The books are about 10 years old and served for the charity projects in the highlands, but they are only gently used, the previous kids have taken really good care of them, so it is fantastic to have them over here as those kids lack books.

Boarding school kids

Not much to report, the kids are having a great time and getting good grades, so I was happy to pay the usual $956 in tuition for two months.

 

Total money left:  $2,259 – $1,769 = $490.

 

 

If you too would like to help support literacy in Guatemala, or if you have an old laptop you would like to donate, please get in touch, thanks!

BIG $500 cash or iPad mini 64Gb giveaway!

BIG anniversary $500 cash or iPad mini 64gb giveaway

 

Just shy of two days left to enter the $500 cash giveaway, hurry up if you haven’t yet!

 

July was a big month around here, RFI just turned two, MMYW just turned one, and Savvy Scot is happy to join along for a HUGE giveaway!

It has been a great year over at Make Money Your Way. 178 posts from that first welcome one, almost 150,000 pageviews, $10,500 in revenue, 10% donated to sponsor young girls’ education in my village, a PR3, and thousands of comments and positive feedback that made it a fantastic experience.

So to celebrate, I am giving away some cold hard cash!

Over the next month, you can enter for a chance of winning $500 cash via Paypal or an iPad mini 64gb, up to you! Shipment tothe U.S., Canada, the UK and mainland Europe is included if you choose the iPad.

Here is the widget, good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If I’m Living Outside of the Country how easy is it for me to get a Home Loan?

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These days it’s a lot more common for US citizens to be living and working overseas; if this applies to you it doesn’t mean that you will never want to purchase property at home. You may be looking to have somewhere to stay if you return to the country to visit, or you may be looking for a property that you can use as an investment now with the potential to use it as your home if you come back to live in the country permanently.

Whatever your reason for wanting to purchase a property you may want to secure a home loan in order to do so. The questions is, are you able to do this and how easy will you find the process?

The question of tax

A home loan provider will often use an applicant’s tax details for the previous two years when reaching a decision on a home loan application. This may be a problem if you are living and working overseas; it really depends on your circumstances. Many US citizens will be located in a different country but be working for a US based company. If you are in this situation then it’s likely you will still be paying tax to the IRS.

You will therefore have a record of your income which can be used in the home loan application process. If you are settled overseas, and working for a foreign employer, then you are going to experience difficulties. You are probably going to be paying tax in your country of residence and you are aren’t going to have the same level of proof to give to a lender. In this case it’s going to be difficult for you to get a home loan from a US based lender. You can read more about fixed rate home loans on the NPBS website – how they can help you & your family.

The question of credit

Another potential issue, if you’re residing overseas, is that you may not have a credit history in the US. If you’ve been away from the country for many years this is likely to be the case. Home loan providers use credit reports in the loan decision process so if you haven’t got any credit history this is going to count against you. There is no way for the lender to see how reliable you are in making payments.

How do overseas investors do it?

It’s not impossible for an overseas investor to secure a loan from a US financial institution but they usually have cash available to at least pay for the majority of their purchase, or they have been financed in their home country. If you aren’t paying taxes to the IRS then you’re likely to be treated similarly to one of these investors and it’s going to be very difficult for you to get a loan from a US based provider. Your best option is to seek financial advice from a professional who will help you to explore what options may be available to you.

When does Trend Following Not Work

Over at Make Money Your Way, today Troy continues about the investing for beginners series and now he will talk about when does trend following not work?

Click here to find out..

Can You Save Money By Using an Online Estate Agent?

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You can do pretty much anything on the internet these days, and predictably, selling your home is no different at all. There are a variety of companies to choose from, wherever you live and whatever type of property you have. The question though, is whether it’s any better to do things online, or whether you’d be better off going down to your traditional bricks and mortar estate agent.

Cost is always going to be one of the number one considerations you make when you sell your house. Not only do you want to get the most you can for the property, you also don’t want to be spending a fortune on fees, as this will simply eat into your budget for your next home, or the cash you’re looking to raise. Estate agent fees can spiral quite easily, which is why they’re often a deal breaker when choosing which company to go with.

The simple fact is that a normal, physical estate agent is going to cost you more to market your home. The main reason for this is that they’ll have much higher overheads, because they need to maintain an actual business premises; a place for people to come and talk to the agents and view properties. They may also have a website that costs money to run. With an online-only company however, it’s likely that they’ll be able to keep costs down, which is reflected in the fees that they charge you. This won’t be the case for every single company, and there are often different packages to choose from, but it’s generally a pretty good rule of thumb.

One other major reason that can make online agents cheaper is that it is far easier to compare prices for a product online. This means that companies have it tough to compete for your custom – they know that you’ll have scouted out all of your options, and must make their offering as attractive as possible in order to win it. Only the companies offering the best combination of price and service can be successful on the internet. Places like House Network Ltd will even give you a free valuation, all online.

So if you’re looking to buy or sell in the near future, then take a look at all of the options that are online. It’s certainly a slightly different process to the one you might be used to, but there are several major benefits. If cost is an issue for you then there are few better options.