Happy New Years! I hope you all had a fun time bringing in 2015. I spent New Years Eve with my wife and a couple of close friends. We had a great time reflecting on the fun and successes of 2014 and I challenged myself to a new income goal for 2015. But before that, let’s see how I did in December.
What’s Eric Up To
This month was one of the busiest travel months of my life. I took four trips in four weeks. I spent Thanksgiving in Santa Barbara and Palm Desert with my in-laws, took a last minute work trip to Phoenix, the day I got home was moving day into my new house, and I only had two days at home before I was off to Kansas City to visit my Grandma. My last trip was back to Denver, where I spent time with friends and family before heading back home to Portland to bring in the New Year.
We closed on our home purchase the beginning of December, and we are on the way to being settled in. We’re still waiting on our fridge to be delivered by Home Depot (it’s on backorder), our washing machine, and our new couch and armchair for the living room. If you’re interested in what it takes to find and buy a home, be sure to check out my Home Buyer’s Guide: From Search to Move-In.
I’m in town for a whole month until my next trip, when I’m off to Las Vegas for my 30th Birthday! My wife is taking me to spend the last weekend of my 20s in style. We have tickets to see my favorite DJ in the world, Tiesto, at Hakkasan night club on the last Saturday night of my 20s. It’s going to be an amazing time.
Tax Time is Coming Soon
As a super small business nerd, I spent part of January 1st finishing up my bookkeeping for the year for Narrow Bridge Media. It was my biggest year yet, which means my taxes are going to be bigger too.
This year, I plan to do 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.
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 have made some big investments in kicking off a new podcast (stay tuned for episode one later this week), a new domain name after six years as Narrow Bridge Finance, and I’m working on a new free ebook guide, video course, 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 from Kansas all year, 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 Empower, so I’m moving to Everbank, which is very focused on their online banking products.
I am debating raising my income goal again for 2015, but for December stuck with my goal of $2,500, which I set as a challenge to myself a few months back. 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 December.
- Web Design Earnings – $1,130
- Freelance Writing – $2,050
- Social Media Management – $0
- Affiliate Payments – $49
- AdSense – $4 (Testing phasing out AdSense)
- Advertising & Partnerships – $646
- 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 – $21 ($15 per month for LiquidWeb and $5 per month for Hostgator – both paid annually)
- Outsourced Workers – $386
- Domain Fees – $503
- Conferences & Events – $0
- Computers & Software – $239
- Misc – $0
Total Revenue: $3,879, Total Expenses: $1,168, Total Profit Before Tax: $2,711
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.
- Custom Flash Mob Payments – $0
- 7 Step Flash Mob Planning Workbook Sales – $0
- Outsourced Workers – $0
Total Revenue: $0, Total Expenses: $0, Total Profit Before Tax: $0
I am all up and running with my automated investments at my new job. I am taking 100% of my available 401(k) match, which requires I put 6% of my pay to receive a 3% match. I am also taking advantage of my employers stock purchase plan to buy stock at a 15% discount, as I believe that is a great investment. I also maxed out my Roth IRA for 2014 with side income earnings before starting at this job. Read more about my automatic investing in my retirement accounts to see how it all works.
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 Empower. 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 9.62%, but that is still much better than any bank account or most investments will return. I currently have 51 active and current loans, 2 past due, 35 fully paid, and 3 charged off. I have earned $309 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 $1,038.