This month is a big one for me. In just two days on February 4th, I have a birthday. A big birthday. The big three oh. 30. Treinta. What a milestone, and great time to reflect on the direction of my online business.
What’s Eric Up To
So, I'm turning 30. I was thinking about the significance of this milestone, and realized that using an age as an excuse for setting goals is as useful as using New Years as a time to make resolutions. If you missed the post I wrote a couple years ago on the topic, I think New Years resolutions are a wasted effort, as most people don't follow through with their resolutions for the long run.
Rather than looking at 30 as a time to make major life changes, I am using it as motivation. Exactly ten years from this week I will turn 40. What do I want to look back on at the end of my 30s? What do I want to accomplish in the long term? What am I on track to do, and what do I have to change to reach the goals I've set for myself?
I am trying to grow my side income while still kicking ass at my primary job. While I brought in over $20,000 in revenue last year on the side, it is not enough to live on or support a family, so growing both my primary income and my side income are important in tandem. I also want to help my wife grow her own business income over the next decade so we can safely live on our multiple income streams to support a lifestyle we want to live.
So what are my big goals for the next decade? They involve things like traveling to new places, growing my family income, and other family-related goals. I am already on track for my biggest financial goals, which are all around savings, retirement funds, and investments. I would love to reach 40 with my financial freedom cash flow able to support my family, whatever it looks like ten years from now. That is my primary financial goal for the next decade.
Tax Time is Coming Soon
In January I wrapped up my business bookkeeping for the year for both Narrow Bridge Media (the parent company of this blog and my online freelance work) and Denver Flash Mob, my flash mob planning company. I have always used a professional tax preparer to do my taxes for me, but I've had a change of heart after getting my bill last year.
This year, I am doing my own taxes using H&R Block online, but TurboTax was a close runner up. I picked H&R Block software because of my small business needs, but if I were just doing individual taxes I might have picked TurboTax. The experience so far has been very simple and straightforward. I'm having more trouble rounding up all of my tax forms than entering them into H&R Block.
I’ve also spent some time cleaning up my Quickbooks and getting everything ready to fill in my Schedule C information for my small business income and expenses. Follow this link for $50 off the newest version of the edition I use, Quickbooks Pro.
Side Business Income
Narrow Bridge Media – All Blogs and Online Activities
Over the last couple of months I made some big decisions at Narrow Bridge Media, the parent company of this website and my online consulting business. I have fired clients, picked up new clients, begun new projects, and picked a new name for this website. I started a new podcast (episode 3 comes out later this week), a new domain name after six years as Narrow Bridge Finance, and a new free ebook guide for newsletter subscribers, and I'm working on a welcome video course called Personal Profitability Bootcamp and in-depth course called the Personal Profitability Project.
I also decided to change banks for my small business checking account. I had been with Gardner Bank, the owner of SmallBusinessBank.com, since I moved to Portland, but I’m finding working with their online product to be a bit of a hassle. Small tasks like changing my address requires physical paper forms and their security doesn’t work well with sites like Mint.com or Personal Capital, so I’ve opened up a small business account at Chase, which has extensive online banking offerings.
I have set a stretch goal this year of $40,000 in online income and a minimum goal of $30,000, a roughly 50% increase year over year. I have a few big open accounts receivables from blogging and web design clients, so this month may be a bit low, but I expect next month to make up for it. I've also brought on a new freelance writing client and will be reactivating another after a two month lull.
Preparing this post is the first time I see how I did each month, so join me in finding out how much I made on the side in January.
Revenue – Goal: $30,000 per year ($2,500 monthly average). Stretch Goal: $40,000 ($3,333 monthly average).
- Web Design Earnings – $114
- Freelance Writing – $1,650
- Affiliate Payments – $100
- AdSense – $2 (Phasing out display ads to focus on affiliates and my own products)
- Advertising & Partnerships – $216
- Premium Plugin Sales – $0 (Thesis Post Image Converter available at CodeCanyon)
- Book Sales – $1 – Buy here or Amazon
- Email List – $19 (Provided by Aweber)
- Web Hosting – $12 ($8.33 per month for MediaTemple Grid introductory rate and $5 per month for Hostgator – both paid annually)
- Podcast Hosting – $12 ($12 per month for Blubrry Podcast Hosting)
- Outsourced Workers – $195
- Domain Fees – $55.75
- Conferences & Events – $0
- Computers & Software – $0
- Misc – $0
Total Revenue: $2,083, Total Expenses: $294, Total Profit Before Tax: $1,789
Denver Flash Mob – Flash Mob Consulting and Planning
Things have been moving slow with Denver Flash Mob since I’ve left Denver, which isn’t a huge surprise. I’ve had more requests for event with professional dancers, which isn’t something we’ve been very good at in the past, so I generally don’t offer that as an option. I’m considering finding a permanent dance studio partner in Denver to help fill that need, or selling the company if the right buyer emerges.
- Custom Flash Mob Payments – $0
- 7 Step Flash Mob Planning Workbook Sales – $17
- Outsourced Workers – $0
Total Revenue: $17, Total Expenses: $0, Total Profit Before Tax: $17
I am all up and running with my automated investments at my new job. Read more about my automatic investing in my retirement accounts to see how it all works. All of my retirement savings and investments are automated other than my Roth IRA, which used to be automated. I now fund my Roth IRA and my wife's Roth IRA from side income earnings.
Retirement Savings Summary:
- 401(k) Contribution – 6% automatic from paycheck
- 401(k) Match – 3% automatic by employer
- Roth IRA – $0 of $5,500 max for 2015 (maxed for 2014)
- Roth IRA (Spouse) – $0 of $5,500 max for 2015
- Employer Stock Purchase Plan – 3% with 15% discount on market stock price
If you have an opportunity to get any employer match, make sure you are taking 100% of that or you are leaving free money on the table. If you have any old 401(k) plans from former employers, make sure to roll them over into an IRA where you can save on fees. I just rolled over my 401(k) from my old employer to my Rollover IRA account at Charles Schwab last week.
If you are not sure where to start with retirement investing, be sure to check out Betterment as an option. I have been a customer myself and recently joined their writing team.
Individual Stock Portfolio
For most people, buying individual stocks is not the best way to invest. It is much smarter to just get a low fee S&P 500 index fund and wait it out. But I have extra education in investments and I’m always trying to beat the market. Here is my current list of all individual stock holdings. Over the last three months, this portfolio has gained 5.64% vs. the S&P 500 4.93%.
- AMZN – Amazon.com
- BLK – Blackrock
- BA – Boeing
- CSCO – Cisco Systems Inc
- GE – General Electric
- JPM – JP Morgan Chase
- KR – Kroger
- PM – Phillip Morris International
- SBUX – Starbucks
- TEVA – Teva Pharmaceutical Industries ADR
- WMT – Walmart
- WYNN – Wynn Resorts
Loyal3 Portfolio – 100% Fee Free Trades:
- BRK.B – Berkshire Hathaway B Shares
- GPRO – GoPro
- SBUX – Starbucks
I have automatic monthly investment in SBUX and BRK.B in my Loyal3 account, which, like the IPO, has no trade fees. Here is a post all about how Loyal3 works.
The best tool I have found to help me keep my portfolio balanced is Personal Capital. The site helps me track and manage my bank accounts and credit cards too, but the site has helped me save hundreds of dollars per year by showing which investments are charging the biggest fees and how to balance my portfolio for my goals and risk tolerance. The site is completely free.
The stock market continues to reach new highs and there seems to be little getting in the way of more growth ahead. There are always bad days, but over the long run the stock market has always gone up. If you are new to investing be sure to check out my in depth guide to the stock market to get started with investing.
This past month, my Lending Club account had three loans go past due, which is more than I have ever had combined. This lowered my annual return to 9.76%, but that is still much better than any bank account or most investments will return. I currently have 52 active and current loans, 2 past due, 36 fully paid, and 3 charged off. I have earned $319 in interest, so even with my losses and the potentials on the horizon, I am still way up overall. Including cash, my adjusted account value is $1,049.