Early semi-retirement started years earlier than I had planned. And here I am, just three weeks in and feeling pretty nervous about the finances. Each month, I’ll be sharing my money roundup report with you, including the good, the bad, and the ugly. So let’s get started.
I have three financial goals:
I calculated my net worth shortly after I was fired, on April 15. So there’s not a lot to look at this month. The two figures that I care about are Retirement and Savings & Investments. My retirement savings is currently in a conservative portfolio, and even then, April was not kind to it. Ultimately, I want to live off of savings and investments (and additional earnings) for at least the next five years, so that’s my key barometer. I added to the savings column as I halted my retirement contribution in this month’s paychecks.
This Friday, I will receive one more deposit from my former employer, and it’s going to be a big one – it will include payment for the leave I had accumulated. If all goes okay, that final paycheck will cover my living expenses for the rest of 2018. Of all the steps I’ve taken to be financially independent, one of my smartest moves was to max out the amount of leave I could carry. Once I became unemployed, this “extra” money makes for a decent-sized emergency fund.
But then that’s it! Gulp!!! So then what? Last week, I frantically finished my 30-Day Sleep Challenge, and then set about updating my resume, adding information to LinkedIn, and connecting with a couple of friends and professional acquaintances from my area of expertise. I have a couple of things in the hopper. First, I was invited to be a peer reviewer for federal grant applications; I accepted and entered my information in a database. Not only does the gig pay money, but it gives me an inside view of cutting-edge ideas that impact subjects that I care about. Second, I am cautiously engaged in some conversations about consulting to complete a project or two. I’ll do a bit more outreach in May.
So do bloggers make money? Some bloggers make millions through their writing, but most bloggers give up within months, tired of writing to an audience of one. Clearly, I haven’t yet unlocked the secret chamber. My affiliate and royalty income from Amazon was an anemic $8.57 in April. Yes, $8.57! Ha! The fact is that there is enormous competition and a crowded marketplace. But I have to remind myself that I started the blog and the Challenges as a hobby. I continue to enjoy blogging, but now I have to get serious about producing income.
I have a fair amount of content in the The Five Journeys and the 30-Day Challenges, but I have very little traffic to my site. I’m willing to admit it when I need some help, and boy do I need help in the marketing department. Plus, I’m cooking up my latest endeavor – building an online course/program, called Early Exit Academy, that will lead people toward financial independence and an early exit from the traditional workforce. To that end, I invested in a six-month program, LaunchLab, that will walk me through the steps to launch my course. It starts May 15 and I will absolutely be fully operational in six months or less. Deadlines are good!
On the business side of the house, I spent $93 on Facebook ads, $12 to buy the domain earlyexitacademy.com, and $51 on Udemy courses on marketing and course creation. That’s a $156 investment, which is a pretty meager investment, and partly responsible for the meager results!
On the personal side of the house, my biggest expense is now COBRA insurance – almost $800. And I had some expenses helping my daughter get to a new job in the Grand Canyon (about $120 for a hotel and going-away dinner). Plus, I spent about $80 for car maintenance service and $79 for a 28-day boot camp (which is kicking my butt)! But all my other expenses have been for utilities, necessities, groceries, and an occasional meal with friends. While I need to be frugal, I don’t want to go overboard by denying myself every little pleasure. And once I bring in some income, I’ll have a bit more breathing room.
I’m afraid May is going to include some expenses that were not built into my budget. My business expenses will go up as I create an LLC, pay for some marketing help, and cover the LaunchLab fees. And my personal expenses will go up too, as I need to hire some help to dig up some large shrubs that were killed by our cold winter winds. Hopefully, I’ll have a couple of gigs lined up that will produce income in the next few months. For now, I’m going to take a deep breath and pretend it will all turn out just fine!