Saturday, April 2, 2016

2016 March Alternative Income Challenge

For information about this challenge see: 2016 Alternative Income Challenge

My numbers have gone even lower this month, unfortunately. On the upside I took a wonderful vacation to Florida and have learned quite a bit about selling items on eBay.

March 2016 AIC Cash Flow Update:

2016 AI Challenge Balance for April: -$698.78


  • Dividend income: $86.33
    • JNJ: $9.82
    • BLV: $6.86
    • MAT: $.82
    • UL: $.72
    • TGT: $2.71
    • MSFT: $1.17
    • K: $.56
    • MCD: $3.35
    • IBM: $9.19
    • VTI: $35.35
    • VYM: $1.97
    • AMC: $.20
    • VNQ: $13.17
    • FTR: $.44
  • Interest: $.19
    • Ally: $.19
  • Kickfurther: $4.55 (return only)
  • Prosper: $1.63 (return only)
  • Chase Freedom cash back: $0
  • Ibotta: $20.20
  • EBay income: $74.02
  • Tax return: $239
  • Old loan return: $200
  • Amazon income: $5.06

Expenses: $1,275.37

Food: $129.37

Consists of all grocery costs for March.

Car: $131.91

Includes gas expenditures, including those for the drive to Destin, FL. 

Entertainment: $286.81

Entertainment more than doubled last month due to a very exciting, well worth the cash, trip to Destin, Florida. This included the hotel costs, drinks, and other excursions. 

Eating Out: $218.07

A large portion of this was due to eating out for nearly every meal while in Destin, FL. It also includes buying lunch while on a week long training for work. 

Health: $39.99

$19.99 for gym and $20 for a haircut. 

Bills: $311.80

Includes fishing trip, ebay/amazon item and shipping expenses, and a few other small items. Also includes -$140.30 balance from February.

Gifts: $157.42

Includes buying gifts for friends/family while in Florida and the purchase of a Garmin Vivosmart HR on sale on eBay. 

Desired and Current Alternative Income Streams Update

Dividends

March is an awesome month for dividend payouts and I increased my dividend payments by 363% from March of 2015. If only I could do that every year.

Kickfurther

Continuing normal use...

Prosper

Continuing normal use...but very much considering putting more money into this. After hearing a podcast from listen, money matters where they discussed how the money invested into loans (through sites like Prosper or Lendingclub) actually helps people pay down debt, start small businesses, etc. rather than fund a large corporation I am much more motivated to put more money into peer to peer lending.  

Chase Freedom Cash Back

Continuing normal use...

Ibotta

Continuing normal use...

Swagbucks

Continuing normal use...

Flipping Items on Amazon FBA eBay (Desired)

While I am still interested in doing retail arbitrage I have taken my first trip to Goodwill in an attempt to flip some products on eBay and will see how that goes. I have also been selling my items in an attempt to make some extra cash and become more of a minimalist.

Online Income (Desired)

No updates.

Photography (Desired)

No updates.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Edward Hall's The Hidden Dimension

"...space relates to everything..." (preface)

One of my goals for 2016 is to read five books. A mediocre educational goal but after graduating from college in December, 2015 I wanted to be sure to continually stimulate my brain. I have recently finished reading Edward T. Hall's The Hidden Dimension. The book covers Hall's theory of "proxemics".

Edward Hall coined the term proxemics to explain the relationship of physical space and the culture of man. The book, very cheap on Amazon - essentially just shipping expenses, is AMAZING. I never realized the impact spatial distances had, and have, on our society. 

I have outlined some of my favorite information/quotes from the book below:

-- Chapter 1, Culture as Communication --

Hall discusses the necessity of aggression in any population. Hall states without aggression we would be extremely overpopulated. Hall states more populous populations lead to higher levels of aggression leads which leads to lower birth rates and more death, creating a population balance. 

-- Chapter 2, Distance Regulation in Animals --

Hall states all animals have a fight of flight distance (including humans). There is a certain distance in which animals will flee and a certain distance in which animals will fight (typically when the threat is closer and thus there is less time to flee). He also goes on to state there is a positive correlation between the size of an animal and its flight distance, hence a deer will flee at a farther distance than a beaver would. While some may think this fight of flight distance does not include humans as for we are a domesticated animal, Hall states by looking at those with schizophrenia we can still observe this behavior. 

-- Chapter 3, Crowding and Social Behavior in Animals --

There are Odiferous substances secreted from special glands (in the armpits, genitals, and urines/feces). "These secretions work directly on the body chemistry of other organisms and aid in integrating groups. (p. 33-34)"

-- Chapter 5, Perception of Space: Immediate Receptors - Skin and Muscles --


  • “Man is well equipped both to send and to receive messages as to his emotional state by means of changes in skin temperature in various parts of the body (also reflected in blood supply)” (p. 55)
  • “...an inflamed area of the body is actually several degrees hotter than the surrounding area... “ (p. 56)
  • “When thermal spheres overlap and people can also smell each other, they are not only much more involved but...they may even be under the chemical influence of each other’s emotions.” (p. 57)

-- Chapter 10, Distances in Man --

Chapter 10 goes into great levels of detail over Hall's 4 distances of man: intimate, personal, social, and public. Each distance has two phases (close and far) and has different effects on conversation. These distances can be used to one's advantage by understanding how by simply taking a step or two forward or back one can affect the other's state of mind.


The book has much, much more valuable information but posting it here would not give Hall or The Hidden Dimension justice. I highly recommend this book to any and everyone, it is relevant to every career field, life path, social gathering, etc. 

Edward, Hall, T. (1990). The Hidden Dimension. Anchor Books.
ISBN: 978-0385084765


Friday, March 4, 2016

2016 February Alternative Income Challenge

For information about this challenge see: 2016 Alternative Income Challenge

Two months. Two months into this challenge and I am already into the negative. I originally intended to give myself an extra $100 each month to go with alternative income but went with the more challenging approach of solely using alternative income. I am not giving up and am certain by the end of the year I can get back into the positive. I am considering including overtime pay as alternative income which would be extremely helpful in maintaining a positive balance moving forward. For now I will continue the challenge as originally stated.

February 2016 AIC Cash Flow Update:

2016 AI Challenge Balance for March: -$140.30


  • Dividend income: $31.20
    • BLV: $7.32
    • T: $15.78
    • PG: $8.10
  • Interest: $8.38
    • Ally: $1.05
    • Barclays: $.30
  • Kickfurther: $8.56 (return only)
  • Prosper: $1.64 (return only)
  • Chase Freedom cash back: $25.29

Expenses: $567.34

Food: $203.43

Consists of all grocery costs for February.

Car: $93.30

Includes $54.85 for plate renewal and $38.45 for gas (loving these lower gas prices).

Entertainment: $112.96

Went a little overboard with entertainment this month but also met a lot of new people and had some awesome networking. The majority of this $112.96 consists of going out for drinks and around $42 went towards joining a billiards league with some buddies (I am awful but it is rather fun).

Eating Out: $85.81

This category goes hand in hand with entertainment. A decent chunk went towards valentine's day lunch and the rest went to eating out with buddies.

Health: $19.99

$19.99 for gym.

Bills: $51.85

$1.86 for shipping out a product sold on Amazon. $49.99 for joining ancestry. Recently got into the whole ancestry thing after purchasing the DNA kit as a gift for another family member. I will be reimbursed some of this expense in the near future from family. 

Desired and Current Alternative Income Streams Update

Dividends

Another month in which my hatred of debt caused me to push more money towards my student loans than the stock market. On the up side I learned of a deferment and forgiveness plan for $4,000 of my loans and the remaining $500 or so will be paid off by the end of next month!

Kickfurther

Continuing normal use...

Prosper

Continuing normal use...but very much considering putting more money into this. After hearing a podcast from listen, money matters where they discussed how the money invested into loans (through sites like Prosper or Lendingclub) actually helps people pay down debt, start small businesses, etc. rather than fund a large corporation I am much more motivated to put more money into peer to peer lending.  
Chase Freedom Cash Back

Continuing normal use...

Ibotta

Continuing normal use...

Swagbucks

Continuing normal use...

Flipping Items on Amazon FBA (Desired)

No updates here other than continual research on sourcing and selling.

Online Income (Desired)

No updates.

Photography (Desired)

No updates.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

2016 January Alternative Income Challenge Update

For information about this challenge see: 2016 Alternative Income Challenge

As my first month of attempting this challenge goes by I have learned a few lessons and am also impressed with my low level of expenses. Life has been hectic between job searching, working my first full time job, and a social life.

Lesson 1: Have an end goal in mind.

Saving money, seeing net worth increase, and having dividend income roll in is always amazing. However without and end goal in mind it just becomes boring monotony. Work, save money, cut expenses where possible, invest savings. This essentially the only thing required for financial independence; decrease expenses and increase passive income. While it is exciting at first, especially when you begin thinking about everything you can do when you retire early, it quickly loses its luster.

Personally my goal is to be financially independent so I can enjoy my life without having to worry about, "Can I really afford to go on this vacation?" Picturing myself sitting on a beach while my dividend income covers my expenses is certainly inspiring. However, I have noticed I am even more motivated when I create a bucket list of items I would like to do either along the way or after financial independence. I started adding things to this list mid-January and can definitely say it is motivating. Whether it be visiting Thailand or SCUBA diving with whale sharks whenever I look at this list it reminds me of all the awesome things I can do when I reach financial independence.

Lesson 2: Additional income can be hard to build

While I intend for the majority of my financial independence to be paid by dividend income I also realize the importance of diversification and multiple income streams (hence this 2016 challenge). Devoting free time to build alternative income can be difficult. When I get home from my 12+ hours shift of security I want to watch Game of Thrones (my current addiction - I'm on season 2 so don't spoil anything) not researching how to flip items on Amazon or researching dividend stocks to invest in (okay this is actually a little fun).

With dividend income I tell myself (with a 3% yield) every $33 dollars I invest will provide me an additional ~$1 a year in passive income (which will increase as time goes on increasing my yield on cost). While I have other income streams (Prosper, Kickfurther, Chase Freedom reward points) there is something comforting about knowing these safe blue chip companies will continue to work for me. With this being said I intend to continue to focus the majority of my investments in dividend paying stocks.

Lesson 3: It is a little easier to cut expenses when you make a game/challenge out of it

I have always used Mint to track my expenses, and still do, but when I started this challenge I wanted to have an app I had to physically put all passive/alternative income and expenses into. This makes me question purchasing frivolous items and seek their true value. For example Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls can provide me hours of entertainment for ~$17.00 while a $6.00 lunch when I can pack my own will not bring me much happiness at all.

January 2016 AIC Cash Flow Update:

2016 AI Challenge Balance for February: $358.98


  • Dividend income: $6.70
    • KHC: $2.89
    • WMT: $2.59
    • STOR: $1.22
  • Interest: $8.38
    • Ally: $8.08
    • Barclays: $.30
  • Kickfurther: $19.93 (return only)
  • Prosper: $1.64 (return only)
  • Chase Freedom cash back: $61.58

Expenses: $540.66

Gifts: $130

Purchased Valentine's Day gift, gift for sister's birthday in February, and bought a few powerball tickets for others when the jackpot was high.

Food: $87.57

Consists of all grocery costs for January.

Car: $113.75

Includes $11 in parking expenses, $15 for changing own oil, and the rest for gasoline. I am also tracking how expensive my vehicle usage is per mile to see the true expense of owning an automobile. 

Entertainment: $65.04

Went on a date to the Casino and spent $49 and purchased Diablo 3 Reaper of Souls for $16.04.

Eating Out: $74.31

This is a category I always struggle in and need to reduce. It includes both the few times I bought lunch at work and going out with friends.

Health: $39.99

$19.99 for gym and $20 for a haircut.

Bills: $30.00

Bought 2 college transcripts for job applications.

Desired and Current Alternative Income Streams Update

Dividends

Due to not liking debt and wanting to pay down my student loans as much and as soon as possible I did not invest much into dividend stocks in January. With the market on sale I would love to invest more into dividend stocks, and may do so if it stays down after my next paycheck, but love seeing the guaranteed 4% return of paying down debt and watching my debt dwindle away. 

Kickfurther

Continuing normal use...

Prosper

Continuing normal use...

Chase Freedom Cash Back

Continuing normal use...

Ibotta

Continuing normal use...

Swagbucks

Continuing normal use...

Flipping Items on Amazon FBA (Desired)

No updates here other than continual research on sourcing and selling.

Online Income (Desired)

No updates.

Photography (Desired)

No updates.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

2016 Goals

A little late in posting this but, as I do every year, I set new years goals for myself in 2016. The goals are both financial and personal - what is one without the other? I will update these goals occasionally, most likely quarterly. Creating goals causes me to hold myself accountable. Posting goals to the public on this blog increases my accountability and makes it embarrassing if I don't accomplish them (more motivation).

Financial

  • Max out Vanguard Roth IRA
    • $0/$5,500
  • Payoff student loans
    • $0/$17,469
  • Reach $22 a month in projected dividend income in Loyal3 account
    • $6.40/$22
  • 1 Swagbucks referral
    • 0/1
  • Flip products for at least $50 profit for the year
    • $0/$50
  • Under $12,000 in annual expenses
    • $0/$12,000
  • Create one new income stream
    • 0/1
  • Start and maintain an emergency fund of at least $1,000
    • $1,000/$1,000
  • 2016 Alternative Income Challenge

Personal
  • 1 elaborate date a month
    • January: Casino
  • Go on a cruise or other major vacation
  • Read 5 books
    • 1.

Monday, January 4, 2016

2016 Alternative Income Challenge

For 2016 I wanted to try something new, challenging, and productive. I came up with a challenge for myself that will be extremely difficult but if I stick with it will prove to be extremely valuable.

I call the challenge, as the title suggests, the alternative income challenge. I plan to budget each month based on the sum of all incomes from the previous month BESIDES primary income. This will not only encourage saving money but also the creation of new income streams and increasing profit from current non-primary income streams.

This challenge will prove rather difficult due to my alternative income streams producing little income when compared to my usual monthly expenses. With this being said, I will be providing $600 as a starting balance plus the previous month's, December, alternative income (listed below). I will also not be including housing, tax, or insurance expenses in this challenge. Adding to the difficulty of the challenge is one of my 2016 goals of going on more interesting (not necessarily more expensive) dates and trips. For example, in January we are planning on going to the casino (it will be the first time for both of us) and gambling $25 a piece with a decent dinner beforehand.

Money put towards investments will not be taken from the AI challenge balance. However, money used for attempting to create new income streams will be taken from this category.

2016 AI Challenge Balance for January: $771.57

  • 2016 AI Challenge bonus: $600
  • Dividend income: $71.04
    • KO: $1.61
    • TGT: $1.52
    • VTI: $18.92
    • BLV: $5.10
    • MCD: $3.12
    • AMC: $.20
    • UL: $.76
    • MAT: $.82
    • VYM: $2.45
    • K: $.56
    • MSFT: $1.17
    • VNQ: $15.53
    • IBM: $9.10
    • JNJ: $9.75
    • FTR: $.43
  • Interest: $13.50
    • Ally: $12.95
    • Barclays: $.55
  • Kickfurther: $14.97 (return only)
  • Prosper: $1.00 (return only)
  • Chase Freedom cash back: $31.06
  • College note-taking payment: $40

Desired and Current Alternative Income Streams

Below is a list of current income streams, how I plan/want to increase them, and desired income streams.

Dividends

I have fallen in love with dividend growth investing (DGI) over the past year. I love the concept of investing in strong blue-chip companies that will pay me regularly without having to sell off shares. I have focused the majority of my investing in DGI and this category of alternative income will probably be one of, if not, the largest source of alternative income. 

I will increase this dividend income through re-invested dividends, monthly automated dollar cost averaging ($10 into MCD and $12 into KO), and whenever money permits for large sum investments.

Interest

Income from savings accounts, such as my emergency savings, will provide a small chunk of change each month. One of my 2016 goals is to maintain at least $1,000 in savings which will provide a little under $1 a month. I currently have a large quantity of money ~$14,000 in savings from inheritance which will be going towards my Roth IRA and towards student loan debt by the end of 2016 reducing this income drastically from what I earned in December ($13.50). 

Kickfurther

Kickfurther is a platform that allows investing in new startup companies with awesome returns. Kickfurther boasts 22% average annualized returns and my experience has not been far off of this number. The platform is very user friendly and the customer service is outstanding. 

Given the proper offer and appropriate savings I will put new capital into this income stream. 

Prosper

I currently have $250 invested into Prosper and do not see myself putting much more into it for the time being. After using it for a while with the $250, seeing my returns, and getting a better understanding of the platform I will probably put more money into this stream as well. I am sitting on a little over a 6% average annualized return currently.

Chase Freedom Cash Back

1% cash back with 5% rotating categories is AWESOME. I love that 1 to 5% of my expenses are covered automatically by using a credit card. There is not really any way I can increase this category other than shopping through their platform but unfortunately I am yet to find anything that interests me to shop through. 

Ibotta

Ibotta is an app that provides cash rebates for groceries. I have earned $26.95 in lifetime earnings and have spent a little over a year using this app. This number would likely be much higher but last year I had a free meal plan due to my resident assistant position and I currently live at home leading to minimal grocery expenses. 

Swagbucks

Swagbucks is a website and phone app that provides "swagbucks" for completing surveys, playing games, watching videos, using coupons, and shopping online. I underlined "using coupons" and "shopping online" because these are the two functions I primarily use. From these two alone I have earned over $30 in the past year with minimal time spent.

One of my 2016 goals is to find one more swagbucks referral, if you would like to help me complete this goal it would be much appreciated!! Just use this link to sign up: www.swagbucks.com

With each referral you earn 10% of their swagbucks for life (not affecting their earnings).

Flipping Items on Amazon FBA (Desired)

I have been reading more and more on this topic. I have sold items through Amazon in the past so am a little familiar with the selling process but never through FBA and never in an attempt to flip. I plan to read MUCH more on this and dive in starting with something small to see if it is possible to earn a profit.

More to come on this category.

Online Income (Desired)

I am not sure how much time I will be able to devote to this process in 2016 but it is definitely an income stream I am extremely interested in. One of my dream goals in life is to earn a living off of nature. I love wildlife and nature and to be able to make a fiscal living off of this passion would be amazing. I have a goal one day to create a wildlife/outdoors youtube channel with the hopes of earning additional income.

Photography (Desired)

Tying in with the life goal mentioned above I would also love to sell some of my wildlife/nature photography. From everything I have read this is a very competitive field and I definitely consider myself an amateur at this point but will work on my skills as time goes on and hope to someday make a side income from this hobby.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

December 2015 Investment Purchases

Stock Portfolio:

  • Purchased .0874 shares of MCD for $10 providing an additional ~$.31 a year in passive income
  • DRIPped .094 shares of JNJ providing an additional ~$.28 a year in passive income
  • DRIPped .051 shares of BLV providing an additional ~$.19 a year in passive income
  • DRIPped .066 shares of IBM providing an additional ~$.34 a year in passive income
  • Purchased .2789 shares of KO for $12 providing an additional ~$.37 a year in passive income
  • Purchased 2.1148 shares of TGT for $150 providing an additional ~$4.74 a year in passive income
  • DRIPped .0925 shares of FTR providing an additional ~$.04 a year in passive income
  • DRIPped .036 shares of VYM providing an additional ~$.05 a year in passive income
  • DRIPped .011 shares of VTI providing an additional ~$.42  a year in passive income
  • DRIPped .193 shares of VNQ providing an additional ~$.85 a year in passive income

Savings:
  • Deposited $25 into Barclays Savings providing an additional ~$.26 a year in passive income

Summary:

Overall I invested a total of $197 in new capital and will earn an additional ~$7.59 a year in passive income. An extra $7.59 a year for doing nothing which will grow as these companies increase their dividend payouts? I am perfectly fine with that!