A month after my big Europe trip things are getting back to normal, which means busy and hard at work. I am nearing launching a new project in addition to my regular side income projects. Read on to find out what I have up my sleeve.
What I'm Up To
In my latest email newsletter I shared the big news that I have a baby on the way. This is our first and we are super excited about the new addition to our family. Part of that new addition means big expenses. With our high deductible insurance plan, the doctor visits and delivery are costing thousands out of pocket, but we have good planning and savings in place to make it happen without too much of a burden.
While the baby is busy growing, we are busy traveling and I am making adjustments to my online work habits to give me more personal free time, which will be dedicated to the baby on arrival. I have brought on an awesome new VA I found through UpWork (formerly ODesk), and she is helping with recurring tasks like blog post formatting, images, and will soon be taking on some of the responsibilities for keeping the Personal Profitability social media accounts up to date.
Giving up this type of control was hard for me, and finding the right VA was not easy. I had a few not work out before I found the current VA, and she has been doing great work. I plan to continue increasing her responsibilities as I prepare for baby day and try to shift my time towards revenue generating activities instead of maintenance and upkeep on the websites.
If you are considering bringing on a virtual assistant to help with your business chores, I highly recommend Chris Ducker's book Virtual Freedom, which has helped me shape my planning and management of my new VA.
I am also busy jetting around the country a bit more before the baby comes and we settle in for the winter in Portland. We were in New York last weekend for a wedding, and June and July are looking busy. We'll be on the road three weeks in a row in June and July traveling to California, Minnesota, and Colorado. August will take me to Chicago for a bachelor party and September is FinCon in Charlotte, North Carolina (state #37, and hopefully a jaunt down to South Carolina to notch state #38.)
New Project in the Making
I recently shared the story of a failed business attempt, and pointed out that it was an expensive learning opportunity. Last month I shared that I had a new project up my sleeve, and this month I am excited to share that it is coming to fruition!
I am going the tried and true tech startup route this time around, and started my journey by finding a co-founder, which I did through Founder Dating. We had a few productive meetings and decided to work together on the project, and it is now under development and scheduled for a soft launch at the end of June. If we are on schedule, we will test demo features with a limited audience in June, add more core features into July, offer a wider test in August, and have a big launch in September when I share the idea with my finance blogger friends at FinCon.
Here's the idea. It is a place for people to manage loans with family and friends. I can't share too much more yet, but you can sign up to learn more when we launch at Money Mola.
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. I was expecting a light income month in May after a stellar April. I am generally paid a month in arrears, and I doubled up my workload in March so I could take it easy on vacation in April. Thanks to taking a couple of weeks off in April, I missed the $1,000 mark in May. I missed it by about a day, as a web design payment came in that didn't hit the bank until June, which sets me up to a good start for the month.
Here’s how things panned out for my online income:
Revenue – Goal: $40,000 in 2015 ($3,333 monthly average).
- Freelance Writing – $600
- Web Design & Support Earnings – $168
- Affiliate Payments – $25
- Advertising & Partnerships – $172
- Product Sales – $3 (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 – $140
- Domain Fees – $84
- Conferences & Events – $20
- Computers & Software – $0
- Misc – $0
Total Revenue: $968, Total Expenses: $489, Total Profit Before Tax: $679
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
After over six months without a peep, we’re back at it! I have had several contacts for events and some good successes in the last few weeks. It is great to see life come back into this business. However, I have considered ideas to remove myself from the business including a sale (tried before with no luck) or bringing on a communications manager, which will further cut my (meager) profits.
- Custom Flash Mob Payments – $286 (includes pre-payments)
- 7 Step Flash Mob Planning Workbook Sales – $0
- Outsourced Workers – $0
- Website Expenses – $0
Total Revenue: $286, Total Expenses: $0, Total Profit Before Tax: $286
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.
- Total Savings Since Joining: $825.10
- Number of Transfers: 44
- Average Transfer Size: $19
This account is amazing because it takes so little work. You just sign up and they take care of everything for you. The account does not earn interest, so when my balance grows enough I make a transfer to an interest bearing savings account or investment account.
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 9.60%, a much better performance than any bank account and most investments. I have earned $371 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 $1,077.
My Notes at a Glance:
- Not Yet Issued – 0
- 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