Happy July everyone! I hope those of you in the United States had a fun time celebrating Independence Day, and that Canadian readers had a great Canada Day last week. I'm writing this in the midst of a ton of travel, and for the first time in a while I'm looking forward to NOT traveling for the rest of the month.
What I’m Up To
The last three weeks have been some of the busiest travel times in memory. Three weekends ago, I was off to sunny Santa Barbara, California to visit family (my wife's side), celebrate my nephew's 1st birthday, and take my first flight in the pilot seat. Flying a plane was a ton of fun, but is certainly an expensive hobby. My first two lessons were part of a very generous birthday present, but an estimate of the total cost to get a pilot's license is about $10,000-$15,000. I want to keep going, but we'll see if my new dad schedule and budget allows for it.
Last weekend, I was off to Minneapolis to celebrate my cousin's Bat Mitsvah. It was great to see family (my side of the family) and visit the land of my birth for the first time in 3 years. I got to meet a baby cousin and catch up with some relatives I had not seen in 3 years, and others I had not seen in many more.
Tomorrow (I'm writing this on July 2nd), I am off to Denver and then Aspen for a 4th of July weekend away. These trips have been made possible by travel hacking, as our flights were all about $10 each round-trip. The alternative, paying $200-$300 each, would have made this last few weeks about $1,500 more expensive, something that would have made these trips cost prohibitive. If you want to get in on the free and discounted travel world, check out my beginner guide to travel hacking.
Podcast and Blog Schedule Updates
On the Personal Profitability podcast front, we are starting a new schedule this month. I have decided to drop the monthly reader question from each episode and will instead incorporate those into longer episodes as they come in. I have started doing an extra longer format interview each month in its place, as those were more popular with listeners.
I have also wrapped up agreements with the freelance writers on the site, and it is back to 100% my writing. I am cutting the blog posts on Thursdays, and will only have the twice a month podcasts go live that day. However, my weekly Monday post is still chugging along, and I am planning to use the extra time I was dedicating to Thursday posts to make the Monday posts even better!
I have also stopped my auto blog post emails to readers. Instead, I am writing a weekly-ish newsletter myself recapping recent posts and news. This will be filled with exclusive content, including my soon-to-be-released Personal Profitability Bootcamp course.
New Tech Startup in the Making – Money Mola
My new business adventure is trucking along. At this phase of development, I am relying on the hard work of my co-founder Balaji. I am not a skilled coder, but I did build the front-end of the site for new visitors, which you can see today at Money Mola.
In the coming weeks, we are planning to start our own testing and open testing to family and close friends. In the weeks after that, we will open up beta testing to a small group of users. If you want to help me out or give it a try, send me an email to eric at moneymola.com. Our first users will get to try all features before anyone else.
We are on track to make a public launch this fall at FinCon in Charlotte, North Carolina in September.
Side Business Income
Narrow Bridge Media – All Blogs and Online Activities
I have a goal this year of $40,000 in online income, a big increase year over year. This year has been marked with some outstanding months and some slower months. I am on track to at least match what I made last year, but hitting the $40,000 revenue mark might be a stretch.
I am spending more on outsourced labor than I had before, which is helping me free up time for my incoming baby and other projects. I am hoping that the new help will increase my productivity and income overall and more than pay for itself.
Here’s how things panned out for my online income:
Revenue – Goal: $40,000 in 2015 ($3,333 monthly average).
- Freelance Writing – $1,722
- Web Design & Support Earnings – $1,975
- Affiliate Payments – $200
- Advertising & Partnerships – $0
- Product Sales – $2 (Thesis Post Image Converter available at CodeCanyon, eBook here or Amazon)
- Email List – $19 (Provided by Aweber)
- Web Hosting – $13 ($8.33 per month for MediaTemple and $5 per month for Hostgator – both paid annually)
- Podcast Hosting – $12 ($12 per month for Blubrry Podcast Hosting)
- Outsourced Workers – $265
- Domain Fees – $0
- Conferences & Events – $12
- Computers & Software – $78
- Misc – $0
Total Revenue: $3,897, Total Expenses: $398, Total Profit Before Tax: $3,498
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
Last year, I had decided to sell Denver Flash Mob, and even considered shutting it down. However, mobs keep happening and I'm not one to turn down a money making venture. I have begun transitioning management of this business to my wife, who is now the acting Chief Mob Officer (in charge of operations and planning). I am still doing the financials and showing her the ropes, but the free time is helping me focus on higher paying freelance gigs.
- Custom Flash Mob Payments – $420 (includes pre-payments)
- 7 Step Flash Mob Planning Workbook Sales – $0
- Outsourced Workers – $50
- PayPal Fees – $13
- Website Expenses – $0
- Business Registration – $10
Total Revenue: $420, Total Expenses: $73, Total Profit Before Tax: $347
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: $1,114.06
- Number of Transfers: 54
- Average Transfer Size: $21
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 – Made maximum contribution on February 13 from savings
- 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.
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 Q1 2015 , my portfolio gained 7.33% vs. the S&P 500 0.95%. Very nice!
- 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
- Company stock from ESPP
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.
My Favorite Investment Analysis Tool
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.
After my first defaults, my Lending Club account is still chugging along making over 9% interest on my investment. My current adjusted annual return is 9.76%, a much better performance than any bank account and most investments. I have earned $383 in interest, so even with my losses and the potential on the horizon, I am still way up overall. Including cash, my adjusted account value is $1,094.
My Notes at a Glance:
- Not Yet Issued – 3
- Issued & Current – 55
- In Grace Period – 0
- Fully Paid – 38
- Late 16-30 Days – 0
- Late 31-120 Days – 1
- Default – 0
- Charged Off – 5