May 1 Debt Check In

It’s May Day and time to see how I’m doing with my finances.

You already know that I had a hacker take my site down for some time.  I’m over it, so I won’t let it bug me one tiny bit.  Whether someone is messing with this site or not, I’m always, always focused on my debt.  It’s not an obsession…okay, maybe just a little bit.  But I’m so FOCUSED that I can literally feel the blood pumping in my veins.  Do you remember that excitement that you had on Christmas morning as a kid?  That’s how I feel now. I’m so excited at the prospect of ending this year in a far better financial position than I began it.  It’s weird, but exciting.

The Debt

The great thing about April is that two credit cards are completely paid off.  I do continue to travel quite a bit for work.  Those expenses are averaging around $2,000 per trip.  My company, for some unknown (cheap) reason, does not supply employees with a Corporate American Express card.  It’s pretty much been standard practice wherever I have worked, that the company pays for business related expenses when they are booked or at least provides a card so that employees are not forced to use their own cards.  Not so at this company.

Yes, they pay my expenses, but expenses are paid only twice per month.  If you book a flight weeks ahead of time, it’s possible that you have expenses sitting on your card for weeks before they can be reimbursed, since checks are cut only after you have taken the trip.  I’m complaining about this because I’ve had thousands of dollars of unreimbursed expenses sitting on my card and it appears to be MY debt to the credit agencies.

So, being a proactive kind of person, I’ve handed the office manager plenty of information about corporate credit cards in the hopes that they will sign up for the program.  I think that it’s ludicrous that senior managers who are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars per year are the only ones that are offered any kind of a corporate credit or charge card. My thought is that they do not want to pay the $75 annual fee per card since around 75 individuals regularly travel (and I mean at least once per month) for the company. Enough about that.

In May I’ll have a laser-like focus on two areas: 1) the Prosper loan and 2) the credit card balance. I have been struggling with which one to pay first, but since both bother me equally, I’m going to split my efforts.  I’m hoping to reduce those two debts by more than $1,000 in May.  This should get interesting.

Before I begin talking more about May, let’s see how I did with earning some online income in April:

Blog Income

Google Adsense YIAC: $54.11
Google Adsense MTFH: $0.08
Google Adsense Super Secret Site: $34.60
Google Adsense Shirataki Noodle Facts: $0.01
Google Adsense other: $22.20
Lijit Networks: $9.61
Ad network #1: $122.30
Ad network #2: $42.00
Private ads: $162.50
Sponsored Tweets: $3.42
Total: $450.82

Am I missing a zero before the decimal?  I sure am!  Having this website out of commission for a while as well as the changes by Google that we discussed last month really affected my blogging income.  Incidents like this really reinforces what I’ve been saying about making sure that you have multiple streams of income.

I’ve never said that your second income stream needs to be humongous, but it should provide a teeny bit of a cushion to keep you afloat for a month or so.  I believe that the same is true of your regular job as well.  I have had the benefit of going through two mass layoffs.  The first time my employer laid off 5,000 people.  The second time was only a few departments. But the second layoff really opened my eyes. I realized that my company was not as loyal to me as I had been to them.  If the company felt that laying off a bunch of people was in its best interest, it didn’t matter what you had going on in your life.  All that mattered was the bottom line.  So, I started being loyal to myself first.

It’s been the same process here with this blog.  Google wants me to have only their ads on my site because less competition is better for them, but it’s not better for me.  So, I put myself first.  In this case, I started diversifying my income and while it isn’t spectacular, it’ll pay for gas. Always have a Plan “B” people.

In my case I not only have a Plan B but a Plan C as well. I activated that plan in April.  I’ve started charging one person for my webmaster services.  This is something that I’ve been doing for free, which took quite a bit of time.  I built one particular site from nothing into a site getting up to 150,000 visitors per month.  I add regular articles, make design changes, monetized the site, etc.  It’s high time that I began charging for my efforts.  You should see that reflected in May’s income, since I bill at the end of the month for my services.  Again, it won’t make me rich, but it’ll pay a debt!

Back to talking about May.  You guys are going to think that I am absolutely fricken’ crazy, but I am exploring the possibility of purchasing another rental property.  I can hear your collective sighs, thinking, “what the hell is she doing?”  Or maybe you’re wondering, “Isn’t she trying to get out of debt?”  And you’re right, I am.  But at the same time, I am also thinking of a long-term Plan B for my job.

Since I hit 34 (when did I get this old?!!!) two weeks ago (thanks for the birthday wishes), I’ve been thinking that I’m half-way to my official retirement age.  I’ve already been working for almost 20 years, and frankly, the thought of having to spend another 33 years working for someone else makes me want to crawl into bed and put the covers over my head.  I can’t do it.  I’m just not wired that way.  I have a deep need to be in charge of my own future.  That and I’d like to permanently fire my future jobs.

It doesn’t matter what anyone tells you.  I still think that real estate can be a great wealth builder if you think strategically and make great purchases.  I’m actually seeing real estate prices increase in the area where I’d like to purchase, but that doesn’t interest me as much as the increase in rental prices over the past three years.  My thinking is that if I can acquire a multi-unit building at the right price, I can break even of my purchase price in four years.  After that, the rental income is all money in the bank.

I know that you think that I’m crazy.  But trust me on this.  Remember when I did this before?  Yes, I had some problems with my horrible tenant, but I am on track to break even from that house in another year – and that includes all of the additional expenses that I incurred from evicting my tenant and renovating the house.  My current tenant pays on time, and I even sent a termination of agreement letter to the management company yesterday giving then a sixty-day notice that they’re fired.  You can read why I fired the management company if you have time. [Edit: Give the link a day. That site was hacked too.  I’m working on it!]

I think that this is long enough, don’t you?  I don’t want to bore you to death and I’m sure that I will share more as the month goes on.

So, lessons from April?

  • Hackers suck so always back your stuff up
  • My company is cheap
  • Diversify everything including your income
  • It’s never too early to plan for retirement
  • Taking a measured risk is okay

Did I mention that I just started grad school again this week for a second Masters degree? No debt with that one this time.  So much to do, so little time. Exhale.

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12 thoughts on “May 1 Debt Check In

  • Amazing Job Sandy! Glad you are back up and running.

    Question: What was the diff between Dec-Jan or Jan-Feb when you killed off 6k of debt versus Feb-Mar or Mar-April when it was 2k/month?

    • Good question, and one that no one has ever asked!

      I did a lot of shuffling my debts around to consolidate everything. I had also been THIIIIIS close to buying some property and had money set aside for my portion of the down payment. When that deal fell through I put that money towards the debt. Here we are five months later and I don’t regret doing that, but, I don’t have money for a down payment on a new property. It’s okay though! I have a Plan B for that too. 🙂

  • Good job getting that debt down.
    I’ve just finally got all my debt sorted with the government. I’ll be working at clearing a $50,000 debt myself. I hope it goes as quickly as yours.

  • Sorry to see all the trouble you’ve had with security over the last few posts but I’m pumped to see that you didn’t give up. Great update and I was def shocked to see the impact of having one of your income streams our of commission. While I am jealous about being kicked from Adsense – I was victim of a bot attack and was instantly banned from Google. This post reminds me I need to keep looking for fresh ways to monetize, even forcing me to see that my income has kind of shrunk recently. Glad to have you back again!

  • Yay to getting the site back up and running! Hackers do suck. I ran into hacker issues on my computer twice, and I’ve never been so thankful that my husband is a computer tech!

    Great job on the debt repayment as well. A second income property sounds like a great idea to me!

  • Sorry to hear about your hacker issues. I have to admit the thought of being hacked scares me tons – I don’t have the technical knowledge to put it all back together on my own.

    You’re making steady progress on your debt – nice to see two credit cards gone.

  • There is so much motivation in this post, wow. Good to hear you are 2 steps in front of yourself but since you’ve been through 2 mass layoffs you know what it takes now.
    I don’t make any income from my site yet so I don’t know what I am missing. What I do know is I hope to learn from all of you and yes Time=Money..looking forward to your numbers in May.

    Cheers,
    Mr.CBB

  • Cool post, in fact the tone of the blog is great. Candid and straight to the point. Your spreadsheet and monthly ‘check-in’ have given me some ideas of how we could help people stay the course when dealing with debts, in terms of visualisations and notifications etc

    good luck with the paydown schedule!

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