I hope your May is off to a profitable start! I'm writing today from London, where I am on a work and touring trip to celebrate my leap to self-employment and being able to work anywhere in the world. Tomorrow I head to Paris, but before I go it is time for the monthly earnings and investment update!
What I’m Up To
I'm about a month into full-time self-employment, and things are ramping up nicely. I have to admit that moving at the same time I left my job made me nervous for a few minutes while watching the bills pile up, but then I remember about all of that cash I had in savings and that I am still new at this full-time thing, and I have to give myself a little time to get fully up and running.
I completed the conversion from an LLC to an S-Corp, and I am officially employee number one at Narrow Bridge Media, Inc. Running an S-Corp is a bit more complicated than an LLC, and it requires things like officers, board of director meetings with official minutes, and other state filings. It is a learning experience and not cheap, but I'm still confident it is the best decision for the business.
As I mentioned in the intro, I'm working and touring in London, England this week, one of my favorite cities in the world! In addition to the museums, markets, and other goodies here in London, we took a day trip out to Stonehenge, Bath, and Windsor Castle to do a little more exploring outside of the biggest city in the country.
Thanks to tons of travel hacking miles and points, our flights were $87 each from Los Angeles to London, returning from Paris. We are in an Airbnb in London, and will stay in a fancy Marriott hotel in Paris thanks to the 80,000 point signup bonus on the Marriott Visa.
I did something stupid and forgot a credit card in the chip reader in Bath, but thanks to great customer service from Chase, my new card is already in the mail and should be waiting when I get to my hotel in Paris tomorrow. I always pack a couple of extra cards and my debit card so I can get cash and have a backup in case I do something stupid like leave my credit card in a chip reader in Bath.
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 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. That is $1,000 per week. Let’s take a look at February to see how I did. I used to build this report manually each month, but now use my QuickBooks reporting for monthly updates. These categories match my business accounting structure – but it is still a bit of a work in progress since changing to an S-Corp.
Revenue – Goal: $52,000 in 2015 ($1,000 per week average).
- Advertising Income (Affiliate + Direct) – $200
- Freelance Income (Website Support & Freelance Writing – $4,663
- PayPal Income (Freelance + Direct Ads) – $1,569
- Product Sales – $0 (Thesis Post Image Converter, eBook here or Amazon)
- Computer and Website Expense – $446
- Employee Benefits – $27
- Employee Moving Expense – $10,408
- SG&A (Coworking Office Space) – $69
- Outsourced Labor – $202
- PayPal Fees – $16
- Postage/Delivery – $37
- Professional Services – $62
- Taxes Paid – $1,699
- Telecom – $159
- Travel – 1,479
Total Revenue: $6,431 Total Expenses: $14,605, Total Profit Before Tax: ($8,173)
So obviously this was not a typical month. I don't normally have a $10,000 moving expense or a $1,000+ travel expense. Taking out those anomalies, things are about where they should be for my first month full-time. Revenue was three times higher than the previous month, and puts me on track for a $77,000 gross revenue run rate, well ahead of my $52,000 goal from the beginning of the year.
You might also notice that expenses are up in general. An S-Corp is allowed to pay for business expenses differently than an LCC, so some personal expenses in the past have become business paid employee benefits. I have decided as CEO that the business will pay 100% of employee healthcare premiums, which you will see increase to about $800 next month. The company also pays for employee mobile phone and internet, which is why telecom expenses increased this month.
I also decided that I can get better work done outside of the home. Having my wife and infant daughter in our new two bedroom apartment (which is just five minutes from the beach!) makes it harder to work at home than when I had a big house with an office. I found a great space, Connect Ventura, which costs $69 per month.
Overall I am very happy with the progress. With another couple of solid growth months, I'll easily beat my old day-job income. Six figures online, here I come!
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. Not much happened in the last few months, but we always have an uptick in the spring.
- Custom Flash Mob Payments – -$100 (includes pre-payments/refunds)
- 7 Step Flash Mob Planning Workbook Sales – $0
- Outsourced Workers – $50 (includes payment for pre-paid events)
- PayPal Fees – $3
Total Revenue: $100, Total Expenses: $53, Total Profit Before Tax: $47
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: $4,551.68
- Number of Transfers: 173
- Average Transfer Size: $26
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 am moving 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 nest egg 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 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.
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 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.
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 8.6% return on my investment. This is much better performance than any bank account and most investments. I have earned $499 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 $1,126. 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 – 39 – $639
- In Grace Period – 0
- Fully Paid – 54 – $1,349
- Late 16-30 Days – 0
- Late 31-120 Days – 3 – $41
- Default – 0
- Charged Off – 10 – $189