13 Weeks to a Money Making Blog (Week 2)

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HOW IT ALL STARTED

In May I read “How This 27-Year-Old Made $1 Million Last Year” on Forbes.com. It was about Michelle, who makes a living as a blogger. She works from anywhere in the country, sets her own schedule and make more in a year that my small group of friends combined. Naturally her story peaked my interest. It was just enough to lead down the many rabbit trails on the internet.

Due to changes at work, I found myself with a good amount of free time that needed to be filled by something other than talking to my co-workers and scrolling through Facebook. This is when I did most of my research.

THE PLAN

The goal is to launch a blog, with potential to earn extra income, by November 1st. To increase my chances of accomplishing this goal, I am using the Self Journal (watch the 4 min video) by Best Self. The Self Journal is a 13-week journal that focus on break long term goals into actionable tasks to foster progress. I plan to stay at my full time job, so this is being done on a part-time basis.

WEEK 1 & 2: Determine Strategy

There was so much information about blogging I didn’t know where to start, so I had to make some decision before I gave up completely. This is when I stumbled across Chasing Foxes, who referred me to The Busy Budgeter, who referred me to Ruth Soukup’s book “How To Blog For Profit: Without Selling Your Soul”.

Progress:

  1. Set up Pinterest business page, created boards and started pinning regularly. The purpose of this is to have see what is out there and create a Pinterest page that isn’t bare at the time of launch. There are things that can’t be finalized until the “official blog” is up and running.
  2. Define blog structure: Name, tagline, topics and subcategories.
  3. Brainstormed list of 100 post ideas
  4. Pinned on Pinterest for 10 mins per day.
  5. Brainstormed affiliate programs that may be a good fit and conducted initial research.
  6. Growing my Facebook friend list. It’s amazing how many people will accept your friend request. I do not know if this will be the least bit beneficial, but its worth a try. These people are placed in a special group, so they don’t see the same information that my close friends and family see. (more on this later)

WEEK 3 & 4

  1. Finish Book
  2. Buy domain & web-hosting service
  3. Buy & complete course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course
  4. Setup website framework and connections to other apps/services

WEEK 5-8

  1. Conduct 30 day writing challenge (approach similar to National Novel Writing Month)

WEEK 9-13

  1. Create content calendar
  2. Move drafts from content to complete and schedule posts
  3. Apply anything else I learn between now and then.

What are your plans to build your blog? Do you have blogger you love to read for blogging advice?

 

 

13 Weeks to a Money Making Blog (Week 1)

The idea of blogging for money has been bouncing around in my head since May.  In the past three months I have gone through every phase from “it’s good for them, but not for me” to “i can totally make this work”. Then one day it happened, I told myself I needed to commit or move on.

Somehow I found myself on the blog “Chasing Foxes” which is run by a couple that started blogging in March 2016 and less than a year later they live off their blog earnings. Let’s take a peak at their earnings.

In May 2016: $500
in Jul 2016: $2,994.13
in Sep 2016: $5,973.06
in Oct 2016: $7,530.93
in Nov 2016: $11,134.33
in Dec 2016: $19,194.85
in Jan 2017: 14,844.37

This is a total of $62,000 in just over a year and two months (Jun & Aug) aren’t included. We have to keep in mind that they pay business expenses and taxes out of this money. Even taking this into consideration their accomplishments are impressive.

Reading their story made me commit to starting a blog with the purpose of making money.

Simon Sinek say “People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.”

MY WHY

On might think that money is my driving factor but this isn’t the case. My heart & mind are in it for the challenge to see if I can start from ground zero and build a money making blog within a  year. It’s very much the thrill of the chase for me.

WHAT ABOUT THE MONEY?

Money will be the reward for my success and I plan to do the following:

1. Pay expenses
2. Give 10% (on earnings after tax)
3. Taxes 30% (on earnings after tax)
4. Save 30% (on earnings after tax)*
5. Reinvest 30% (on earnings after tax)

*The money planned for savings will ultimately go towards paying my house. If all goes well, it will be paid off in under 5 years.

WHAT IS THE PLAN?

I plan to start a blog, separate from this one, a Facebook and Pinterest account from scratch and apply what I learn from the blogging community around the web. Everyone is so helpful in providing How To posts, YouTube videos and podcast. I may test some things out on this blog , but it is not my intent to turn this to my challenge and this blog is not self hosted.

The Self Journal is a journal designed to help one reach a set goal in 90 days. This will be the tool were I track wins and losses over the next 90 days.

Are you blogging to make money? What is your WHY?
Do you know of a blogging community or would you like to start one?

 

2 Choices that Saved Thousands on the Mortgage

You are ready to buy a house and you don’t want to be a slave to the mortgage until you die. It doesn’t matter if this is your first or last house, you can start planning to own it out right from the day you start browsing real estate sights in your area.

Here are two tricks that will save you thousands of dollars in the long run and they will help you pay off your home sooner.

  1. Commit to a 15 years, fixed rate mortgage
  2. Request that your loan accept bi-weekly payments

The two things will naturally shave 15 years off the average mortgage in America.

Trick #1: Commit to 15 year, fixed rate mortgage

The average homeowner has a 30 year, fixed rate mortgage. While it offers the benefit of having a lower payment, it ends up costing the homeowner thousands of dollars in interest. Let’s look at an example to really understand how much money is being left on the table. We can use the numbers from my home buying experience  for the example.

Example: Mortgage is equal to $122,290 and the rate is 3%.  I had the choice to sign up for 15 or 30 years.

Mortgage Term Monthly Payment Estimated Interest
30 Years $515.85 $63,318.58
15 Years $844.51 $29,722.31
Total Savings   $33,596.27

Who knew one little decision could be worth $33,596.27?!?!

Trick #2: Make bi-weekly Payments

Making bi-weekly payments is an option that many, but not all mortgage lenders offer. Therefore you must request that your loan officer select a loan that permits bi-weekly payments. You will make a total of 13 payments each year instead of 12. This trick doesn’t save as much as the first trick but it definitely moves the needle. We will continue using the example from above to see how much one can save by paying bi-weekly instead of monthly.

Mortgage Term Interest Paid
Monthly Payment 29,722.31
Bi-Weekly Payment 26,611.86
Total Savings 3,110.45

Here you have it, this choice saves an additional $3,110.45.

Summary

All in all these two choices saved $36,706 in interest. When I sit back and think about it’s an easy choice when this much money is at stake.

I highly encourage you to run the calculations on any home you are considering to buy. It will be time and energy well spent.

For calculations I used the Vertex42 Free Home Mortgage Calculator (excel).

 

Paying off the Mortgage – Year 1

Today is the one year anniversary of my closing. Overall the year has been good, but once again I must admit that I would rather live in a condo or an apartment. Let’s get to the numbers:

  • House Cost: $164,900
  • Mortgage Amount: $122,290
  • Principal Paid: $12,265
  • Interest Paid: $5,714.36
  • Remaining Balance: $110,025

Oh my, look at how much is being allocated to interest! I am nowhere near as aggressive about paying the house off as I was with paying credit cards, the car loan and student loan. It has been a bit of a struggle/balancing act to determine how much should go towards to the house and how much should go to living life.  Getting a roommate has relieved some of the pressure, because I can put the rent towards the mortgage instead of beating myself up each payday that I don’t make an extra payment.

In 1 year, I have only paid an extra $5,222.66 toward the mortgage and will finish in just over 14 years. I really, really want to do it in under 10. Below is the summary for where I starter and where I am.

Summary Initial Current Comments
Years Until Paid Off 15 14.23
Number of Payments 390 370 20 Payments Less
Last Payment Date 6/23/2031 9/16/2030 9 Months Early
Total Payments  151,910.43  149,164.17
Total Interest  29,620.43  26,874.17 Save $2746.26 in interest

In the graph you will see that the need has moved just a tiny little bit and for this I am grateful.Mortgage Graph - 110K

The journey to payoff a mortgage is anything but short and sometimes it seems impossible. I remembered when I was in Baby Step #2 I created debt thermometer that I colored in every time I paid off $1,000 to help keep me focused on the end goal. Generally speaking I LOVE progress trackers, so it only makes sense to create one for my house where I can color in the squares as I go. It’s pretty basic, but gets the job done.

Mortgage Thermometer - 110K

What do you do to stay motivated? Do you have recommendations on how I can pay down the mortgage faster?

 

 

Net Worth – Summer 2017 – $150K

Net worth is not something that I tracked close over the year, but I was able to find some morsels of information that I tracked on and off. During the first few years of the Total Money Makeover journey, my focus was on the getting out of debt and then completing the other baby steps.

While in grad school do recall a classmate telling me “You must always keep an eye on your net worth”. The advice seemed reasonable, but I didn’t understand why he felt it was so important. Today I know why.

Our net worth is a way to sum up all we own and all we owe (hopefully zero). It’s lets us keep a pulse on our finances without digging to far in the details.

In the past 10 years my net worth a -$94,744 to $149,512. This is a $244,256 change. The journey has been long but interesting.

THE DETAILS

Net Worth to Present - Line (2017.07)

 DATE Cash/Bank Assets Investment Liabilities NET WORTH
12/31/13  $-  $32,555  $5,612  $-  $38,167
03/31/14  $-  $8,862  $19,131  $(357)  $27,636
06/30/14  $-  $8,862  $23,600  $(357)  $32,105
09/30/14  $39,560  $8,862  $40,830  $-  $89,253
12/31/14  $40,023  $6,300  $44,743  $-  $91,065
03/31/15  $40,692  $6,300  $46,251  $-  $93,242
06/30/15  $43,620  $6,300  $47,543  $-  $97,463
09/30/15  $39,827  $6,300  $50,307  $-  $96,435
12/31/15  $52,979  $5,924  $58,293  $(158)  $117,038
03/31/16  $49,590  $5,924  $58,455  $83  $114,053
06/30/16  $41,253  $5,989  $64,394  $1,682  $113,318
09/30/16  $10,132  $170,889  $53,024  $(117,371)  $116,674
12/31/16  $13,593  $170,889  $48,793  $(116,780)  $116,495
03/21/17  $17,063  $168,418  $66,309  $(114,169)  $137,621
06/30/17  $18,006  $168,418  $74,337  $(111,214)  $149,548

Onward and upward!


Do you track your net worth? How often? What tools do you use?

How I Approach My Budgets – Side Hustle Income

A follow up post to “How I Approach My Budgets – Full Time Income

Right now I have a couple side hustles that bring in some additional money, but I am not 100% sure what I want to do with the money.  I will say that 10% of what I earn is donated to my church or another charitable organization.

Let’s look at the side hustles and there potential budgets:

Book Hustle – I published a gimmick book a few years ago and it sells on Amazon. My goal was to publish, not get rich off the book so there is no marketing done. There is a website and facebook page that doesn’t get much of my attention. It is safe to say that this sales have grown organically over time. Monthly, I earn anywhere for $12 to $50 per month in royalties.

Net Royalties
Less 10% Donation
Stays in Checking Account

Military Reservist Hustle – I report for duty one weekend a month and two weeks per year.  The weekend pay is about $204 and the two week pay is about $1028. Both amounts are after taxes & TSP contribution (15%).

Net Pay
Less 10% Donation
Moves to Savings Account or Use for Online Retail Hustle until it generates own income

Roommate Hustle – I am working to get a roommate to share my house. So far I have emailed with 32 people and met 5 or so. Last week I found someone who wants to move-in in July and is willing to pay $700 per month. This is up in the air as I haven’t heard from her in a week.

Net Pay
Less 10% Donation
Less $350 to extra mortgage payment
Less utilities increase
Use for Online Retail Hustle or additional mortgage payment

Online Retail Hustle – This side hustle is in the works. The plan is to launch several Kickstarter Campaigns over the year. The campaigns will be for products targeted to a niche market. I am planning for 4 campaigns this summer.

Net Pay (after all bills paid and money set aside for taxes and reinvesting)
Less 10% Donation
Aggressively pay off mortgage and use for life experiences

WALMART VS LIDL (Part 2)

Last week I decided to give Lidl a chance to earn my grocery shopping business. During the first trip I  only saved $1.67. 

WEEK 2 RESULTS

Lidl Walmart
Aluminum Foil  $1.99  $2.52
garlic Salt  $1.19  $1.23
Unsalted Butter  $2.39  $2.74
Chopped Spinach  $1.39  $1.00
Zucchini  $0.76  $0.65
Sweet Potatoes  $0.83  $0.66
Granny Smith Apples  $3.29  $3.94
Russet Potatoes  $0.66  $1.05
Chuck Roast  $9.26  $12.30
Large Eggs  $0.49  $1.98
Dishwasher Tablets  $3.99  $4.06
Purex Detergent  $5.97  $5.97
TOTAL  $32.21  $38.09

The savings this week  was $5.88. Once again it wasn’t anything to write home about, but I do understand every penny helps. Lidl did not have everything on my list, so that means and addition trip to another store. Here are the things not sold at Lidl – almond extract, Au Jus mix, ranch dressing mix or  Brussel sprouts (fresh).

I may shop at Lidl from time to time, but I am not going to drive the extra distance to do it on a weekly basis. The time spent on the extra mileage and running to a second store is more valuable to me than the savings.

HAPPY 10TH TMMO ANNIVERSARY!!

Ten years ago (2007) I was introduced to Dave Ramsey by my co-worker and my life hasn’t been the same. I was a 26 year old, new grad, with $104,616 in debt and no plan. Today I am a 36 year old with an net worth of  $149,747.

10 Year Overview

I recall my co-worker saying “Dave says not to invest in your 401K until you are debt free.” I initially thought it sounded ridiculous and was the opposite of everything I had been told by society. Little did I know how misguided I was by listen to society. Now I was intrigued, so I bought the Dave’s book. In one weekend I read The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness and signed up for Financial Peace University. The $125 I spent on these two things have had a greater return on investment then most of my academic classes.

During the past 10 years I…

… completed Baby Steps #1 through #7 (#5 & #6 were not applicable). In 2016 I moved back to Baby Step #7 when I bought my house.
… was laid off twice; once in a merger (FEB 2014) and another in a acquisition (JAN 2015)
… was unemployed for a total of 14 months between FEB 2014 and MAY 2015. I never want to be unemployed again. After week two it is no longer enjoyable.
… joined the Air Force Reserves.
… had to conduct two job searches. If I had to guess I submitted close to 1000 resumes. Again, something I don’t wish on anyone.
… lived in 6 states between OCT 2013 and AUG 2015.

Lessons Learned

The journey hasn’t always been full of rainbows and unicorns, but it has taught me many lessons. I have learned:

  • To live and be happy with less. I don’t me nothing, just less. What more could anyone ask for when they have what they NEED and LOVE?
  • To follow my own path and stop judging others. We all have a journey and not two people will have the same journey regardless of how many similarities may exist. We all have one goal and that is to create lives that make us happy.
  • To be irrationally generous (a phrase I learned from Pastor Craig Groeschel at Life.Churh). Giving with a cheerful heart is fun and refreshing. Being able to give reminds me of how blessed I am to be in my financial situation.
  • I won’t miss out on anything if I choose to show up as the leading character in my own life.

The Numbers

2007 2017 Change
Income $71,500  $85,508  $14,008
Giving – Annually $520  $8,551  $8,031
Debt ($104,616)  $(13.00)
# Budgets  N/A 262
Credit Score
www.creditkarma.com
 IDK TransUnion – 787
Equifax – 773
Net Worth  $(94,744)  $149,747  $244,491

Income: My full time income has increased 19.6%. I did not include income from side hustles because I don’t have the data readily available.
Budgets: I love creating budgets so much I would be happy to create budgets for other people. 🙂
Net Worth: This isn’t something I tracked closely until now.  It’s kinda crazy to realize the the financial position change by almost a quarter million dollars!!!!

Hopes for Year #11

Financially speaking things are starting strong with the new roommate. I will still be looking for ways to grow my net worth to $5.3 million 🙂

I am not expecting a raise from the full time job, but the AF Reserves will be giving me a raise when I sew on Staff Sergeant. I have been selected to commission as an officer, so this will result in additional income. I also hope that my online store side hustle become somewhat successful….okay break even at a minimum.

This time next year I would not be disappointed if I found myself in a relationship heading towards marriage. The idea of navigating personal finances with someone else is exciting, but I have heard “the struggle is real”

I plan to go on a 5 day cruise on Royal Caribbean to the Caribbean. It’s been so long.

Thank for being on this journey with me! It is my hope that something from my story will help you in your journey.

—Lady A

PS: You can see past anniversary post here:

How I Approach My Budgets – Full Time Income

Budgeting is pretty basic and straight forward but no two people do it the same. Not even those who learn to budget from Dave Ramsey.

A couple of things to know before we start…

First and foremost, I am single so my budget committee meeting consist of me, myself and I. It can be challenging at times to not have someone to bounce my thoughts off of, but I have two accountability partners when I need perspective.

Second,  I do what works for me and you should do what works for you.

Third, I always use the zero based budgeting method.

Let’s get started…

I know Dave teaches us to budget on a monthly basis. This does not work for me since I get paid bi-weekly, so I budget every payday. Once you get going it doesn’t take much time from start to finish. Since July 2007, I have completed 261 budgets and I can confirm that no two were alike.

I do not use fancy apps or software to create my budget. I started with a spiral notebook and pen in the first year, then I started using Excel. Nine years later it still gets the job done. There is no need for me to have access to my budget at all time.

I have income from my full time job and side hustles (anything other than full time income). My budgets are from my full time income only. The budget for side hustle income is handle differently.

BUDGET BREAKDOWN

Income

$3,288,78   – Gross Income
$    825.91  – Less Taxes
$    295.99  – Less 401K
$         3.01  – Less Dental Ins.
$         3.06  – Less Vision Ins.
$ 2,113.72  – Net Income

Expenses 

My fixed expenses are those that are the same every payday, therefore I do not include monthly bills that have moving due dates. SF stands for sinking fund.

$100.00  – Grocery
$40.00 – Pocket Money
$324.81 – Giving (10%)
$19.04 – Fraternity Donation
$211.54 – Roth IRA
$422.26 – Mortgage Pmt.
$7.31 – SF: Life Insurance
$38.15 – SF: Homeowners Ins.
$96.15 – SF: Property Taxes
$23.08 – SF: Christmas Fund
$2.77 – SF: Identity Theft
$19.23 – SF: Car Insurance/VPP
$50.00 – SF: Travel
$24.96 – SF: Organization Dues & Fees
$19.23 – SF: Clothes
_______________________________
$1398.53 – TOTAL FIXED EXPENSES

My variable expenses are those that are not paid bi-weekly and may fall on an even or an odd payday. Timing all depends on the time of year. Below you will find the monthly estimates. Those in blue have amounts that vary each month. I plan to sign up for average billing with the gas and electric company once I become eligible.

$100.00  –  Gas for Car
$65.00  – Water
$65.00 – Electricity
$17.00 – Gas for House
$83.22 – Cell Phone
$39.99 – Internet
$47.82 – Health Insurance
$14.99- Alarm System
$29.99 –  Gym
_______________________________
$463.01 – TOTAL VARIABLE EXPENSES

Money left after everything is paid is considered unassigned.

If we assume that all the variable expenses are paid in week 1 (odd week) the amount left is $252.18. Therefore the amount left in week 2 (even weeks) is $715.19. Every four weeks there is a total of $967.37 that is unassigned. Unassigned funds to not remain unassigned for long. In most case I have some “random things” to take care of, this my include things like an oil change, birthday/graduation gifts, something needed in the house or something just for fun.

After assigning funds to the “random things”, I will apply the funds to the baby step that I am working on. These days it is baby step 3 (emergency fund) or baby step 6 (pay off the house).

Finally Found a Roomie!!!

At last, I found a roomie.

il_fullxfull-270122038

The roommate search started forever ago (January) and it has finally come to an end. For anyone looking for a roommate I want you to know things are slow moving in Jan-Apr. After May it seems like everyone is moving for one reason or another. I connected with 30 to 40 people. Several were guys and I was looking for a female, a few were flaky, one decided to get her own apartment, one was leary of the neighborhood due to her friends opinions, one was a party animal and one was a good fit.

As we all know it takes money to make money.

  • To find my roomie I posted on roommates.com and craigslist. The cost of roommates.com was $39.98 for 60 days and was not a great experience. Alot of people create profiles, but aren’t seriously looking on the site. I image they are too cheap to pay the fee. My roomie can from craigslist. No not all people on craigslist are crazy.
  • The TransUnion SmartMoves tenent screening cost $26.25. USAA offers this discounted price.
  • There are some things that need to be purchased prior to her arrival…toilet paper holder, shower curtain rod, hardware for the two window units for her bedrooms.

Let’s talk about making money!

  • I once told my friend that I wanted to live somewhere for $400 with washer & dryer in unit.
  • Rent is $650 per month and she will pay $300 bi-weekly.

What will I do with the money?

  • Give 10% – $65
  • Extra house payment – $585

What does this mean for Baby Step #6?

Mortgage Balance – 111,893.65
Payment – $844.51

Adding the extra payment each month will help pay the house off 6 Year(s), 7 Months sooner and avoid $12,318.74 in interest fees. (Graph from Mortgage Payoff Calculator at calculator.net)

Capture

Of course we all know I may or may not always have a second income (roomie or future husband) to help with the mortgage, but these numbers are for a best case scenario.  Worst case is 15 years!

I’m so excited to make my first extra payment!!!!