I have to be honest. I’ve been dreading this quarterly update. Perhaps it’s my over-achieving and competitive nature. Perhaps it’s just the fact that it’s the last quarter of the year and Christmas is upon us.
In this update on my journey to financial independence, I don’t feel like I have accomplished all that I hoped to these last few months. It feels a bit more like two steps forward, then a big step back.
However, I have made progress. And in writing this update, it’s important that I’m reminded of this. Sometimes it’s necessary to take a step back and look at the overall picture again.
Which is why I feel it’s vital to have both short and long-term goals and to keep those goals near and dear. Post them on the wall at your desk, in the kitchen on the refrigerator. As your phone wallpaper. Keep that perspective of just what it is that you are working towards every single day.
Because you have the opportunity to make a difference in your everyday actions.
So with that reminder, here is an overview of my last three months, what I have focused on, what I have accomplished, and, what I have done wrong.
Contents and Quick Links
My Journey to Financial Independence – Update
Net Worth Tracking
Let’s just start with the biggie. Since my overall goal is financial independence, tracking my net worth every quarter is important for tracking and monitoring progress. Or, highlighting and evaluating problem areas.
This quarter my net worth went down. And yes, I’m pretty bummed about that.
However, this is a good reminder that the journey is winding and I can’t expect great growth at all times. Sometimes there are dips and it does not change the plan or indicate that I’m doing something wrong. There are ups and downs in the market and the year. It’s Christmas time which means gift shopping and travel. I went on an amazing trip to France and Italy, which I don’t regret in the slightest. Also, I’m preparing for another real estate investing purchase, which means I shuffled funds around and missed out on some interest earnings.
Learn how I purchased my roundtrip airfare from San Francisco to Nice, France for only $122 by visiting Intro to Travel Hacking.
These are solid reasons why my net worth took a small dip recently. Rather than panic and jump to the conclusion that I’m doing something wrong, I’m using this as an opportunity to closely evaluate my spending and investments and see if there’s anything I need to adjust for next quarter.
Focus on blogging
This side hustle of mine was meant to be approached with a purpose. I had very clearly defined goals, which I knew would need to be adjusted along the way. It’s one thing to jump into a new project – one you have zero experience or knowledge in – and be open to learning every little step. It’s another to actually navigate those learning stages and not get sucked under by the sheer enormity of the undertaking.
So, while I haven’t reached my goal of establishing a regular income yet, regardless of how small, I have made headway. Here is a review of my progress over the last few months.
Increase in traffic to my site: 405%
This is huge to me. No longer do I see the occasional day when no one stops by to visit my website. There is reliable traffic every single day. This makes me so happy! And, tells me I’m on the right path.
Increase in newsletter subscribers: 275%
One of the main things I have learned about blogging as a business, is that the power is in the subscribers. It doesn’t necessarily matter how many people come visit your site everyday. It matters who your loyal readers are.
The question is, how many people am I actually reaching? Am I making a difference here?
If I don’t have readers coming back because I’m offering something of value, then what am I doing this for? I started this journey to make a difference and help other people that are going through what I have. I want to empower others to take control of their finances, set big goals and build a secure future.
One metric of whether I am accomplishing this or not is my number of newsletter subscribers. These are my tribe and they are important to me. And finally, I’m seeing that number grow.
Featured guest posts
I have reached out with other bloggers these last few months. I feel like I’m building on my network of friends that I can relate to, learn from and commiserate with. I have a feeling that before long, I’ll have a new group of friends that will become like a second family. And it feels pretty good to find that community.
I have contributed a few guest posts for some fellow bloggers. The benefits to this include the networking and building of new relationships, it gains exposure for fi & wine, and brings in potential new readers. It also helps to build credibility and authority with the Google Gods. This ranks me higher in Google search, which drives more traffic.
Blogging Income: $88.56
While it doesn’t exactly allow me to quit my day job just yet, it is a start. And for me, it’s something to celebrate. With a bottle of fancy Champagne that I’ve been saving for 9 months in fact!
So this isn’t where I expected to be at this point, but I’m happy with my progress. Sometimes it’s okay to fall short on a goal.
There is a quote, by Pitbull of all people, that I think of often.
Reach for the stars. And if you don’t grab them
At least you fall on top of the world.
I’m on the right path, I have learned so much along the way, and I know what I need to do in order to continue growing. And that is very valuable and exciting.
My goal for the year was to continue with my real estate investing (REI) and purchase another property.
Just today, as I’m writing this, I completed the paperwork for a new purchase. This purchase doesn’t exactly match what I was looking for. It will actually be a temporary and totally passive deal. But it’s action, and action makes for progress.
For my second REI deal, I’ll be partnering with another investor to flip a house purchased at auction. I will contribute 35% of the total funds, our realtor will arrange the rehab with a general contractor and the sale of the home after repairs. In 4-6 months we project a 14% return on our investment.
For details on my first REI deal: How I Purchased My First Rental Property.
That about concludes the progress I’ve made. Now, for the things that didn’t go quite as planned.
The effect of having too many projects
I find it increasingly difficult to apply adequate attention to my various obligations and projects. I’m still working full time and I accepted a minimal part-time position just last quarter (see 6-month update for more info on that). But of course, my focus is on fi&wine.
When I’m fully focused on a goal, it’s all I want to do. Not surprisingly, I’ve fallen behind on many other obligations because I have allowed them to become lower priority. And so, other areas of my life have suffered recently.
While my day job is still going well, it shows that I’m not as fully dedicated as I used to be. I don’t find myself going the extra mile to make improvements to my department or my field.
It’s harder for me to maintain a clean house, and when my house is disorganized, it makes me feel anxious and stressed. I’m also really embarrassed by how terrible I am at keeping up with emails, calendar appointments, phone calls and socializing with friends and family.
This last month I have felt the weight of everything I have set aside while I focus on growing my business. I believe the solution to this involves revisiting old goals and updating current and new goals.
Whenever I experience increasing levels of overwhelm and stress, it’s because I’m missing focus and a clear, actionable, plan. It’s because I somehow lost clarity of my goals and don’t know specifically what I need to do in order to make progress.
When I catch myself falling into this trap, I know it’s time to revisit my goals. This helps me narrow down my focus and set clear actionable steps which will lead to the progress I’m after. Which in turn makes me feel excited and renews my motivation to keep going.
This last month I have felt that stress and overwhelm creeping back into my life. I took some time to think about why this was. Here’s what I noticed:
- I wasn’t exercising regularly anymore
- I wasn’t planning my day with intention
- My house was disorganized
- I didn’t have a clear outline of blogging tasks
- I was randomly skipping from one task to another, again, with no intention or priority
Clearly, it was time to revisit my goals and determine what was important to me and what action I need to take, every day, to get back on track. I plan to do this through journaling.
Introducing the new goal setting tool – journaling
One thing I’m going to try for next quarter is journaling. Not just writing in a pretty notebook about how may day went. Intentional writing of my goals, how I will break my goals down into steps, and the steps I will take each day to make progress.
There is a new journal, written by Brandon Turner and published by my favorite group, BiggerPockets. Brandon is a real estate investor and hosts their weekly podcast. He is killing it in investing (and life in general), and he does this through goal setting with intentionality.
You can listen to his last podcast where he introduces his new journal here. He, and co-host David Greene, talk about the science behind setting and achieving big goals. I cannot recommend this podcast episode enough. I listened to it once, will be listening to it again to take notes, then I will probably listen to it one more time just to help solidify all the valuable information provided.
The 90 Days of Intention Journal is not just a tool for investors. It’s a tool to clearly define what you want in life, what your clear purpose is, and then break down specifically what you need to do in order to succeed.
Anytime you have to spend too much time thinking everything through and creating a new process, you are less likely to stick with it. So I’m going to spend a little money and go with a journal, targeted specifically for what I need. No overthinking things. Just fill in the blanks and take action.
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I just pre-ordered my new journal. You can do the same here:
Other journal options:
It’s officially the holiday season, and this often means overspending! To make matters worse, almost ALL the birthdays in the family fall between November and December! This year my son and I will be flying out-of-state for Christmas and New Year’s, and I finally understand why everyone complains about airfare during this time of year. It all just adds up to a depleted bank account.
For the most part, my days of overspending are behind me. But this month I’m feeling the financial pinch. This could have been avoided by creating a savings and budgeting plan specifically for the Holidays. Since I know that I will want to spend around $1,000 next season, I can preemptively set aside $100 every month and not feel bad about it next year. So, I’ve added a new category to my budget and automated savings for this purpose.
This hasn’t been my best quarter. However, it has been a really good learning opportunity and reminder of how important it is to have clearly defined goals, broken down into actionable steps. Then, those steps have to be scheduled.
This quarter has taught me that I need to revisit my goals, update them, and make a clear plan of action. Taking it a step further, I plan to add clarity, tracking and accountability by journaling my tasks and progress.
You can check out my previous updates at: