It's February! We are already almost 10% of the way through the year. Are your side hustles coming along as well as expected? Here's how my January went, and some new plans for 2016.
What I’m Up To
January had me as busy as any month I can remember, though not all work and not all good news. I had a serious laptop damage issue that put me on the sidelines for side income for a couple of weeks, bad news about our very sick dog, a work trip to Atlanta, and a very stressful few weeks overall. On the upside, though, we have had visits from family and have dug into some serious planning for 2016 and beyond.
As part of my long-term plan, I've decided it's time for me to learn to code more on the backend of websites, and I'm over 60% of my way through a PHP course I'm taking online. I already know HTML and CSS, so building a static website and updating a WordPress theme is a piece of cake. At the end of the PHP course, I'll also know how to create my own custom WordPress plugins, and my very own apps and dynamic websites. My first project is going to be an app for people to quickly look up whether a fish is Kosher or not. Check out the very premature landing page for Kosher Fish.
Once that is complete, I'm going to pick back up on a couple of other projects that have been waiting in limbo, most notably Podtuber. I had planned to hire someone to build out Podtuber for me, but with my fancy new PHP skills, I can build it myself and save a ton on development.
Side Business Income
Narrow Bridge Media – All Online Income Projects
My online income tracker shows my entire history of online income since I began tracking, and it shows how volatile freelance work can be, particularly when doing it part-time. I update the page monthly with all of my online income histories since I began tracking monthly.
Now that 2016 is underway, I need to start living up to my revenue goals for the year. I'm setting myself a goal of $52,000 this year from my online businesses. That is $1,000 per week. Let's take a look at January to find if I have any catching up to do.
Revenue – Goal: $52,000 in 2015 ($1,000 per week average).
- Advertising Income (Affiliate + Direct) – $581
- Freelance Income (Website Support & Freelance Writing – $2,280
- Product Sales – $1 (Thesis Post Image Converter, eBook here or Amazon)
- Computer and Website Expense – $334 (Includes ConvertKit Email, LiquidWeb, and Hostgator)
- Continuing Education – $3
- Meals & Entertainment – $0
- Outsourced Labor – $182
- Telecom – $57
- Travel – $0
Total Revenue: $2,861, Total Expenses: $773, Total Profit Before Tax: $2,088
If you are new here and want to see more history, check out my earnings by month since 2012 at my online income tracker.
Denver Flash Mob – Flash Mob Consulting and Planning
My wife has officially taken over duties running Denver Flash Mob, which is giving me more time to work on freelance projects and this website. She’s doing an excellent job so far as the Chief Operating Officer / Chief Mob Officer. We have run into some schedule issues being remote owners, but we’ve been working through them.
- Custom Flash Mob Payments – -$100 (includes pre-payments/refunds)
- 7 Step Flash Mob Planning Workbook Sales – $0
- Outsourced Workers – $150 (includes payment for pre-paid events)
- PayPal Fees – $2.90
- Website Expenses – $75
- Business Registration – $0
Total Revenue: -$100, Total Expenses: $228, Total Profit Before Tax: -$328
A few months back I signed up for Digit, and automated savings account that you manage via text message. Here is how my savings have added up with zero work on my part. The more I use it, the more I love it for how easy it is to use. Each time I hit enough for a new stock purchase, I move the funds right to my investment account.
- Total Savings Since Joining: $3,663.93
- Number of Transfers: 139
- Average Transfer Size: $26
If you’re interested, sign up for Digit here.
My automatic investing in my retirement accounts has been going along as planned. It is nice to see so much cash going into our savings for the future. I have been debating funneling some money into a regular taxable account that could support early retirement, but for now this is the setup I’m sticking with:
- 401(k) Contribution – 6% automatic from paycheck
- 401(k) Match – 3% automatic by employer
- Roth IRA – $5,500 of $5,500 max for 2015
- Roth IRA (Spouse) – $5,500 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.
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
While I think most people are better off investing in low-cost funds or through a service like Betterment, I have a lot of financial education and do my best to make what I can in the stock market. I’m not perfect, but I’ve done pretty well. If you want to learn more about investing, check out my complete beginner guide to the stock market.
I have my individual stock portfolio details below. In addition, I have (much more sizeable) investments in diversified funds for retirement and a holding of my full-time employer company stock in an employee stock purchase plan account. This month, I picked up a few oil stock while they are way down. This is the “buy low” part of “buy low, sell high.”
In addition to Charles Schwab, I have an account at Loyal3. Loyal3 offers 100% fee free trades and the ability to participate in IPOs, also with no trade fees. Here is a post all about how Loyal3 works.
If I did not have such great benefits from Schwab, I would seriously consider moving my primary investment account to TradeKing. I met their team at FinCon, and their product has grown to be a top-notch investment account offering. And trades are less than $5!
My Favorite Investment Analysis Tool – It’s Free!
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 has taken a beating so far this year, but that doesn't mean all is bad. The stock market moves in cycles, and time and again we see that timing the market doesn't work. Instead, remember to focus your investments on the long-term return. If you are new to investing be sure to check out my in-depth guide to the stock market to get started with investing.
I have seen a big step up in my default rate, but my Lending Club account is still chugging along making over 8% interest on my investment. My current adjusted annual return is 8.82%, a much better performance than any bank account and most investments. I have earned $470 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 $1,099.
My Notes at a Glance:
- Not Yet Issued – 0
- Issued & Current – 47
- In Grace Period – 0
- Fully Paid – 48
- Late 16-30 Days – 1
- Late 31-120 Days – 2
- Default – 0
- Charged Off – 8