Eric Rosenberg WBEZ This American Life Studio

July 2016 Earnings and Investments Update

Summer is in full swing and I recently passed my three month anniversary as a full-time online freelancer. I have seen some fun, some unexpected, and lots of hard work. Read on to see how the cookie crumbled in June.

July 2016 Earnings & Investments

What I’m Up To

There is a saying that an entrepreneur is someone willing to work 60 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week. I am finding that the 60 hours a week thing is a bit of an exaggeration from what I’m doing, but not by much. I’m getting into more of a routine finding the times and places that work best for me to get things done.

On the flip side of working long hours, I’m also able to work flexibly. I just got back from a 12 day trip to Aspen and Chicago. Aspen was a family vacation where I did a mix of work and play. It is great to be able to get everything done wherever my laptop is, and summer is Aspen is great. I had outside time, work time, ate everything in sight, and enjoyed watching fireworks over the ski slope.

I went straight from Aspen to Chicago for the Podcast Movement conference. It was my first conference that wasn’t FinCon, so it was a totally new experience. I learned a lot, met some amazing people, saw great speakers, and got a little time to tour around Chicago. The highlight was when Kevin Smith, the writer, producer, director, and actor, joined me for a recording for the Personal Profitability Podcast. He will be in the next episode coming up next Thursday. Subscribe so you don’t miss it!

I also got to hang out in the WBEZ Chicago Public Radio studios, the home of This American Life and many other amazing shows. I met some of the WBEZ staff and had a great time, then headed to recent podcast guest Jason Vitug’s financial literacy and book tour meetup just a few blocks away.

Now I’m back home in California getting back on schedule with my regular writing and website design business demands.

Side Business Income

Narrow Bridge Media – All Online Income Projects

Personal Profitability Project

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 when I remember with all of my online income histories since I began tracking monthly.

I set a revenue goal of $52,000 this year for my online businesses at the end of last year. That is $1,000 per week. But now that it is my full-time job, I am increasing my goal to $6,700 in monthly profits. Revenue is great, but I can’t pay the bills unless the business is profitable. By the end of the year, I am aiming for $10,000 in monthly revenue.

Revenue – Goal: $10,000 monthly by the end of the year

  • Advertising Income (Affiliate + Direct) – $59
  • Freelance Writing – $5,322
  • Freelance Website Services – $645


I now pay myself a weekly salary through Gusto, an online payroll management service, and the business pays for my family’s internet and health insurance as employee benefits. Because of that, expenses look a little different than they used to. I’m going to include my salary as an expense here, but not include it in the total, as those dollars are directly benefitting me.

  • Computer and Website Expense – $173
  • Dues & Subscriptions – $10
  • Meals & Entertainment – $11
  • SG&A – $69 (Coworking Office Space)
  • Outsourced Labor – $257
  • PayPal Fees – $34
  • Telecom – $103
  • Travel – $175

Total Revenue: $6,026 Total Expenses: $832, Total Profit Before Tax: $5,194

This was definitely a step down from last month’s revenue, but still puts me at a revenue run rate of $72,000 and net income of over $60,000. A big step down from where I was at with this as a side gig plus my old salary from the day job, but with so much new freedom, I’m not upset or discouraged.

I removed employee related expenses (payroll and insurance) because those are pass through and family related expenses paid by the business, but not directly related to the business.

If you are new here and want to see more history, check out my earnings by month since 2012 at my online income tracker.

Automatic Savings

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. With the demise of my 401(k), I may use this as my new saving source for our Roth IRAs.

  • Total Savings Since Joining: $4,898
  • Number of Transfers: 195
  • Average Transfer Size: $25

If you’re interested, sign up for Digit here.



If you have a full-time job and can get a 401(k) match, always take advantage. Since I moved to the world of self-employment, my retirement savings are changing a lot. Here is a snapshot of my long-time automatic investing in my retirement accounts.

I am temporarily pausing retirement account contributions while we save up a bigger emergency fund and the business income grows.

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 love the ease of use of their product. (Disclosure: I used to write for Betterment on occasion)

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 listed below. In addition, I have (much more sizeable) investments in diversified funds for retirement and a holding of my former employer company stock in an employee stock purchase plan account at Fidelity.


Market Value: $14,576. Cost Basis: $11,089. Current Profit/(Loss): $3,481or 31.39%.

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 this year, 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 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 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.

Peer-to-Peer Lending

After a multi-year amazing run with no defaults in my Lending Club account, I have been disappointed to see more losses lately. Even taking out past due notes, my net annualized return is still an impressive 7.7% return on my investment. This is much better performance than any bank account and most investments. I have earned $519 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 $1,111. Because of recent losses, I have been holding onto the cash in my account while deciding on a new plan.

My Notes at a Glance:

  • Not Yet Issued – 0
  • Issued & Current – 51 – $951
  • In Grace Period – 0 – $0
  • Fully Paid – 56 – $1,399
  • Late 16-30 Days – 0 – $0
  • Late 31-120 Days – 2 – $6
  • Default – 0
  • Charged Off – 11 – $204

If you want to know exactly how I make consistent returns with Lending Club, check out my in-depth guide to making money with Lending Club.

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