Tag Archives: goals

First Quarter Business and Personal Finance Goals Update

This year I’ve consolidated my goals for 2013 to focus on things I care about and things that are doable. I set my sights too high last year and sort of failed. After 3 months, here’s how I’m doing:

1. Earn $10,000 From Non-Blog Related Side Income

So far, I’ve earned very little from non-blog related side income. The only thing I’ve made is a few hundred dollars from selling stuff on eBay when we set a goal and made saving fun for a few weeks. But my goal won’t be achieved that way, rather I need a new venture to kick it up a notch (or start buying more lottery tickets).

The next few months will help determine whether the product I am building for bloggers to track their advertisements will pan out. I think the idea is really solid, and am hoping to team up to really take it to the next level. So not much going on right now, but that could change in a hurry.

2. Save 50% of My Post-Tax Income

Lauren spent a week partying visiting friends in New York, and we booked a vacation for May. Those were our only major non-monthly expenses, and our spending has been much more consistent in the first 3 months of this year. As a result, we’ve managed to save 57% of our after-tax income, which is a huge win. We’ve got some flexibility the rest of the year and can still hit our yearly goal.

Looking forward, we have another summer vacation planned, and we will pay for school for Lauren possibly 3 times (summer, Fall semester, and pay for Spring semester in December). So I guess it’s good that we’re ahead of the game. We will hopefully continue our progress reigning in our spending and any extra income I can earn will give us additional breathing room.

Readers, how has your progress towards achieving your goals going?

I’m Creating A Product For Bloggers To Track Their Advertisements

As part of my goal of creating $10,000 in new income during 2013, I have developed an idea for a business that I think is useful, sustainable, and profitable. I will be documenting the process of creating, launching, and building this new business.

While on my honeymoon in Cancun, I read The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau and absolutely loved it. For all you entrepreneurs out there who just need a little motivation, go pick up his book today and start reading. You don’t need big money to do big things.

Over the past year, I’ve developed a system for keeping track of my advertisers, advertisements, and expenses. I used to use spreadsheets to track all of the data, but things would fall through the cracks and there was no easy way to organize all the information I had. Now, with the click of a button, I am able to generate reports of my sales, fees, expenses, and net income for the month or year. Plus, in an instant, I can see which advertisers should be contacted and what their history is. No lead becomes dead anymore, even if they don’t follow up to my initial response.

To say that my new system has saved me time is an understatement. Instead of calculating all of my sales, fees, and expenses by hand each month or quarter (with the risk of human error), I click one button and the reports generate instantly. I immediately see a breakdown of all the important figures for each of my websites. Also, I don’t have to dig through hundreds of emails to find conversations with advertisers who never closed on a deal.

More importantly, the system has directly led to more sales. My system has led to at least 7 sales that would not otherwise have happened totaling over $2,000. It has also helped me avoid letting expired deals run without being paid for it. I click on my handy “expiring soon” view in the system and it tells me everything that will be expiring in the next month. Just fire off a couple emails and hope that the advertisers are interested in renewing!

There is clearly value in the product, so the next step was ironing out the details. Most of this was done in my head while I was at the beach reading or listening to podcasts while Lauren tanned, and when I got back to the room, I would take notes about my ideas. I needed to build a site that was easy for users to navigate, intuitive, and provided them with all the features a blogger needs to track their advertisers, advertisements, and expenses. I had the idea, so the next step was the technical details.

As soon as I got home, I created a project on Elance, where providers bid on the job I posted. I described everything I wanted and needed for the site as well as the backend databases, and the proposals started to flow in. I got some responses from people who could do the job for $1,000, some for $500, and some for as low as $300. In the end, I picked someone who promised the site would be done within a week for $375. I accepted their proposal and they got to work. However, 3 days later, when I expected the front-end of the site to be complete, I asked for update and didn’t hear back. After a few more days, I cancelled the project. I never released any funds, so there was no harm done. But I had to find someone new.

And I did. The new provider was very responsive, cost $400, and had even build a similar system for someone else in the past, and I liked what they showed me. We started to work together and every 2 days they would send me an update and I would give my feedback on the changes they made. There was a lot of back and forth and I made lots of seemingly small requests to make sure the site looked and functioned the way I wanted.

The site is not perfect, but it has all the essentials and then some. It is a one-stop shop for all bloggers to record their sales and expenses, and once the advertiser data is recorded, there’s no need for reminders until it comes time to follow up as indicated. Once I launch the product and get some feedback, I’ll be adding some other features that I think users will enjoy.

Oh, and if you want to check out the site, here it is: BlogBookkeeper.com. Please let me know what you think! I look forward to sharing more of my story and hopefully I’ll have something nice to report soon! I’m planning on officially launching the site to new users soon!

2013 Business and Personal Finance Goals

Last year, my goals were a little too lofty, so this year I’m setting more realistic goals along with some action items to hit. I hate goals like increasing twitter followers if there is no plan regards to how to achieve them.

1. Earn $10,000 From Non-Blog Related Side Income

I never know what will happen with my blog or what income I will earn from it. I’m always working to increase revenue from advertisements, but there are too many factors for me to even guess what I will earn from it in 2013. At the drop of a dime, everything can change making any income goal unreachable, so I don’t want to set a related goal.

However, what I can do is set a goal of creating new income from new projects. Last year I attempted to create two new side businesses. Maybe I could have done that, but without earning any income, is setting up a couple of websites really impressive? This is definitely not an easy goal, but I would really like to create another stream of income.

How I’ll achieve this goal:

I am working on a product for bloggers which I think many will find very useful. It has saved me countless hours over the past year and has helped me increase my blog earnings significantly. Soon, I’ll start offering it to help others, too. The price I’m offering is very low compared to the value it provides, so I’m hoping for some great reactions from my fellow personal finance bloggers so I’ll know whether to expand to others.

2. Save 50% of My Post-Tax Income

This past year was definitely difficult to achieve with a wedding and honeymoon to pay for. This year should be much more calm with fewer one-time expenses (like furnishing a home). We won’t try and achieve this goal if it means giving up having fun on other excursions, but I do think it’s something that we can make happen. As opposed to last year, I’m including Lauren’s tuition bills as an expected expenditure.

How I’ll achieve this goal: Lauren and I have mapped out our year and with our regular expenses plus some room for unexpected costs and some fun money, I think saving 50% of our post-tax income is a great goal. It forces us to stay on track but doesn’t constrain us. We don’t want to move into a cheaper apartment just to hit the goal, but we know we can’t wait until July to start saving.

There are a few expenses that will not be included in the calculation: student loan payments that we make above the minimum and charitable contributions. The reason to exclude those two categories is so that we don’t have any motivation to give less to charity or to put money in the bank instead of toward paying down our debts. I could choose to cut back on both in the name of reaching our goal more easily, but what’s the point of that?

Unlike last year, I’m going to stop there. I think some my goals were interrelated in 2012, so missing one goal automatically meant missing another one, and like a house of cards, it could have all come crashing down based on one or two events.

Readers, what are your goals for 2013? Have you learned from making goals in the past?