Why in the world do you share your income publicly?
When I started this website more than nine years ago, I had just left a job working as a bank manager. I learned so much about misunderstood parts of banking and personal finance earning a finance degree and running a bank branch that I decided it was time to share what I had learned. I was the guy who decided if your mortgage was approved, after all, something most people never see firsthand.
I read other personal finance blogs as I worked to pay off my car loan (which I did in about half of the five year term), pay off my student loans (two years and six days after graduation), and conquer other financial challenges as a Millennial with a shiney new finance degree. I realized reading those other sites that I had a unique perspective thanks to my background, and to build trust with you, I would be completely transparent on how I deal with my own finances.
I used to share a monthly net worth update, but since stopped doing so regularly for the privacy of my family. However, I always shared what I earned online and through side hustles, and continue to do so every month. Side hustle income has changed my life, and I like to show you how in these monthly updates.
If it’s your first time stopping in, you can see a history of my online income reports here, going back to February, 2012, when I brought in $739 online. I did a whole lot better this month, but you’ll have to keep reading to find out exactly how much better and how I did it.
Most popular posts for new readers:
- Complete Beginner Guide to Budgeting
- Complete Beginner Guide to Credit
- Complete Beginner Guide to the Stock Market
- Complete Beginner Guide to Freelancing
- Complete Beginner Guide to Travel Hacking
- 137 Side Hustle Ideas
Buying a house!
Let's start with the biggest news. I'm buying a house! My family has been in a modest 2-bedroom apartment about a five minute walk from the beach since we moved to California a year ago this week, but it is time to upgrade. With pets, kids, and my office all sharing the same small space, we are ready for an upgrade!
My wife and I bought and sold a home in Portland before moving to California. We only owned the home for 14 months, but made 20% on it. Thanks to the big profit there and on a condo I owned in Denver, we had enough cash for a big down payment that lets us buy a nice, comfortable four bedroom house with a yard.
With only one baby, why four bedrooms? One is room to grow, and one is going to be a new dedicated office for me! I've been working mostly at the kitchen table for the last year, which is not all that conducive to productivity. There are distractions everywhere. I'm writing this on a laptop on a messy table with “head shoulders knees and toes” blasting on the Google Home for my daughter, who just wandered out of the room. There's a car wash out the window that blasts mariachi music six days a week starting around 2:00pm. I'm ready for an office!
I tried coworking, but found I was working at home more than I was schlepping to the office space. I do coffee shops and cafes some, but I really want a home office (again) with two monitors setup for maximum productivity. This house is going to help us make it happen!
We are staying in Ventura, just moving across town to an area with better schools and more of the community vibe we are looking for in the next phase of life.
New focus on productivity with a new virtual assistant
We are doing a sale leaseback with the house and won't be moving in until the end of June, so I still have a couple of months at the trusty kitchen table before I move into my new office and rig up dual monitors. In the meantime, I am taking steps to improve my productivity across the board. The first step was hiring a new, United States based virtual assistant for the first time.
Everyone give a warm welcome to Melissa from Sunburnt Saver, who is joining primarily to help me improve this site, but will be helping a bit with other administrative tasks and odds and ends as we go. I still have a couple of VAs helping me from the Philippines and Pakistan for the podcast, but bringing Melissa onboard will hopefully be a game changer for me.
I didn't want to deal with time zones or language barriers, and with six month over $10,000 per month, I decided it was time I could afford a better assistant. Melissa is just one time zone away in Arizona, and will be helping me around 5 to 10 hours per week. We're not keeping a clock or doing hourly pay, it's just a fixed monthly payment. This makes it easier for both of us, and I trust Melissa to do a great job and use time diligently to help build traffic, a better experience for you, and hopefully ultimately revenue in my pocket. For now, my freelance work is subsidizing this site's costs, but that isn't the plan forever!
Speaking – Next week I'm of to Huntsville, Alabama for TBEX, where I'm speaking on turning your freelance side hustle into a full-time gig. TBEX is a major travel blogging conference. A conference like this is loaded with perks. Huntsville is one of the space capitals of America and is home to Space Camp, where I get to spend a day! I'll be touring Huntsville quite a bit, then head down to Montgomery for the last few days of the trip where I'll be with a small group in a city at the heart of the Civil Rights movement. I'll be eating my way across the city visiting important historic sites like Dr. Martin Luther King's church. I'm excited! Learn more about TBEX here, awesome stuff to do in Huntsville here, and more about visiting Montgomery here.
KosherFish.co – After seeing some success from Google, I hired a freelancer on UpWork to create Android and iOS versions of my Kosher Fish web app. The Android version is live and available to download. iPhone version pending approval from Apple, as it has been for a month! Hopefully the $600 I spent on the two apps will pay off quickly! So far the Android version has only earned $2, so I'm thinking this is going to take a while to break even.
Money Mola – Money Mola is getting very close to the big launch date! The email system was just upgraded to send using Amazon's Simple Email Service (SES) and the integration with our ACH partner is complete and in testing. I've been in discussions with a lawyer about possibly converting to a Delaware corporation, getting founder contracts in place for the four of us, and other legal reviews.
Writing – When it rains it pours! It has been a busy month. I'm on my last month with one long-time client who decided to bring its writing in-house, but I had a new client already pop up to take its place. This is my core income, but I'm always looking to diversify with new projects.
Entrepreneurial Income Breakdown
Drum roll please! It's time for the main event, my monthly online income breakdown! If you are a new visitor, check out my entire history of income reports going back to 2012 here. The page is currently mid-way through an overhaul, so it looks a little funny right now. But in a few days it will be all spruced up! Anyway, on to the income report!
- Affiliate Marketing – $3
- Direct Ad Placements – $296
- Total Advertising – $298
- Website Support – $458
- Writing Services – $12,024
- Total Freelance – $12,482
- Flipping – $19
- Premium Plugins – $0
Gross Profit – $12,799
April was officially my last month billing for my monthly website support service, and I will be shutting down all clients there at the end of the month. This gives me more time to focus on the writing side of my business, where I have been doing well consistently. I'm looking to add a new line for speaking by the end of the year.
EXPENSES (Does Not Include My Paychecks)
- Bank Charges and Payment Fees – $9
- Computer and Internet Expense – $347
- Meals & Entertainment – $240
- SG&A – $19
- Outsourced Labor – $91
- Postage & Shipping – $3
- Professional Services – $ 0
- Telecom Expense – $107
- Travel – $109
- Total Expenses – $925
Total Revenue $12,799 Total Expenses $925, Profit Before Tax $11,874
Check out my full history of income reports here.
Financial Planning & Analysis
Two months ago, I had a scare that I might not reach my $10,000 monthly income goal. This was a wake up call that I need to do more regular check-ins. I have been doing that to some extent, but not as well as I need to in order to ensure I reach my goal each month.
Last week I finished all taxes for the year, and did pay a few bucks in penalties for missing two quarterly estimated filing dates. I ended up with a big refund as part of a travel hacking strategy, but to ensure it doesn't happen again I set up automatic payments for the entire year based on last year's tax results. If you follow a quarterly schedule, you don't have to pay the penalties, so I know I'm all set.
Lessons Learned in the School of Hard Knocks
This has been a month of learning to better embrace and enjoy the freelance lifestyle. I've been able to travel, work from my parent's house in Denver while my daughter played with her Grandma and Grandpa, go to home visits and inspections, and even took a couple of “vacation days” for Passover where I did far less work in honor of the holiday.
Freelancing and solo entrepreneurship are hard work, but if you learn to find balance it is an amazing lifestyle.
Until next time, stay profitable.