I started writing these quarterly updates as a way to stay focused on my overall goal of financial independence and ensure that I was making progress.
The purpose of this blog was to:
- Provide accountability
- Drive motivation to achieve my goals and dreams
- Document progress
- Provide side hustle earnings
- Help define my path to financial stability and ultimately financial independence
As I contemplate this one year update into my journey, I’m amazed by how this project has evolved and grown. Not only has fi&wine given me the motivation and drive to go after my dreams, it has lent a level of focus and clarity that I was previously missing.
My goals have been more clearly defined and I have been better about measuring and tracking my progress.
Here is my one year update on my journey to financial independence.
Contents and Quick Links
This is my one year blogging anniversary! Exactly one year ago, I purchased a blogging course called Elite Blog Academy (EBA). I’m pretty sure that my life will never be the same again.
I had researched what this blogging thing was all about, then brainstormed what topics I would write about. I even started writing my first few posts. But what I kept reading time and again was that if I really wanted to start out right, EBA was the best thing I could do. It would provide a clear path to follow and the framework for blogging success.
A year later and I would say that this is 100% true. I would not be as far along as I am without the education, guidance, mentorship and community of EBA. I still haven’t broken even from my initial investment. However, I’m not worried. I’m on the right path.
Anytime I compare where I am now to where I was just three months ago, I’m amazed. I absolutely love the control I have over how much I can learn and then immediately implement. My blogging education has continued, I learn something new every week. And my blog is doing what it should by reaching more readers and providing value.
The money will follow in time and while I’m not where I wanted to be on my one year mark, I’m happy with my progress.
- Increase in traffic to my site: 125%
- Increase in subscribers: 76%
- Income earned: $257
I have also started to reach out to other bloggers and push myself to network and promote fi&wine. The immediate result of this effort has been very positive and encouraging. My 7 Steps to a Financial Clean House email course will now be included as a product in the Ultimate Bundles Master Your Money Super Bundle, which is a collection of 45 personal finance products, bundled together for a steep discount.
While I don’t expect to earn much from this collaboration, it will bring new readers to my site and help me gain new traffic and subscribers. This, ultimately, will allow me to reach and help more people.
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These three month updates are really helpful in understanding the bigger financial picture.
For example, I have consistently saved around $1,000 every month, despite some unexpected expenses that popped up recently. At least, that’s what it feels like. The actual story is a little different.
I have my emergency savings fund that I maintain at around $10,000. When an unexpected expense occurs, I pay from this emergency fund. Last month I received a notice from Social Security that I was overpaid survivor benefits to the amount of $7,700. All of this, naturally, would have to be repaid immediately or my wages would be garnished and my credit potentially dragged through the mud.
So, while I have consistently increased my emergency fund by at least $1,000 every month, I just drained more than 7 months of my savings efforts. How much have I really saved over the last three months? I need to look at the bigger picture of my total expenses over the last three months compared to my total savings. In this case it’s negative, but will build back up over the year.
This simply highlights the importance of having a:
- Large emergency fund
- Monthly budget
- Annual budget (which accounts for one time large expenses)
I don’t feel as defeated when I’m putting money aside each month to cover a specific expense. However, it no fun to think I’m saving $1,000/month when in reality I’m only saving around $350/month after covering a large, unaccounted for expense.
Three months ago I had just started the process of purchasing a home as a passive real estate investment. Escrow was delayed due to a title issue, but the deal finally went through a few weeks ago.
This property is strictly a passive flip, which isn’t my preferred method of real estate investing (REI). I was feeling frustrated that I had money sitting in an online savings account earning just over 2% interest, when it could be invested and earning 5-20%.
With the help of my real estate agent (and past REI partner) I partnered with another investor to purchase a single family home at auction. The home had been foreclosed and the old owners never to move out.
We now own the property (I have 35% ownership since I didn’t have the full 50% to invest) and we’ve started the eviction process. This is a great opportunity to learn the eviction process, without having to actually navigate it all on my own.
Once the previous owners have moved out, my realtor will coordinate with the contractor to rehab the property. He will then re-list the home and sell it for more than we invested.
The conservative estimated return on investment (ROI) is 15%. This will count as income and therefore be subject to income tax. I could have moved the money to a low-cost index fund account for an estimated ROI of 7% or continued to leave the funds in my online Marcus savings account earning 2.25%.
This deal will be a learning experience, and it will be interesting to see what profit I earn in comparison to other investing options. For now, I’m waiting to see how it goes.
Net Worth Update
I’m a bit more attuned to market ups and downs now that I’m regularly tracking my net worth. That being said, I am able to remain unemotional about the occasional dips.
I use Mint to track my spending and budget, monitor my credit and track my net worth. I do notice small changes to my net worth as I increase my savings rate.
- Net worth increase: 12.2% (partly thanks to investment home purchase)
Personal Goals Update
There’s this thing that everyone tells you that you should have in your life. It’s called balance.
I’m not a huge believer in this.
When you set great big goals, it takes a lot focus to achieve them. You can’t experience this kind of focus if you are multitasking. Or, if you are trying to maintain balance by focusing on too many things at once.
I have four components to my life that I try to balance.
- Work (for a paycheck)
- Stepping Stones to FI
I find that I can successfully focus on (and dedicate enough time to) one component at a time. When I try to do it all, I fail miserably.
But they are all important.
Instead of balancing everything, I choose one to focus on for a defined period of time. Then I become so focused on that ONE Thing (a book I recommend reading, not just once but once every year!) that I want to accomplish within the time frame I have. Without distractions pulling me in multiple directions, I can be extremely productive.
So instead of balance I effectively time block chunks of my day, week or month and focus on one or two areas.
Sadly, the component that most often gets left out is my personal goals. I still battle with finding time to exercise regularly and take care of my personal health and fitness goals.
I plan to make my personal health and fitness goals more of a priority over the next 3 months.
Every quarter brings new changes and a lot of growth. I’m so excited to be learning and making progress, which makes all the hard work and effort worthwhile.
Here’s a quick recap of my main accomplishments over the last three months:
- 12.2% increase in net worth
- Product accepted for an Ultimate Bundles personal finance bundle (potential income and exposure)
- 125% increase in traffic
- 76% increase in blog subscribers
- New blogging skills learned (too many to list!)
- Purchase of second REI deal
My personal action steps include:
- Increase focus on my personal goals to eat better by logging my meals and increasing my exercise with running, HIIT workouts and bike commuting.
- Continuing to use my 90-Day Goal Journal to remain focused on my immediate goals and properly planning my day to ensure that I am completing the right tasks to achieve my top priority goals.