May 1 Debt Check In

It’s the beginning of the month and time to review my finances again.  Just a reminder, the entire reason why this blog exists is to chronicle my debt journey.  Since the very first post here, I have shared an embarrassing amount of personal financial information about myself on this blog.  It’s not because I’m a glutton for punishment, but because I believe in teaching through real examples.  I want to show that is it entirely possible to pay off a six-figure debt without filing bankruptcy, all while making a five figure wage.

I’m still gloriously unemployed, but I’ve been making my time as productive as possible when possible.  I was sidelined for half of April since I was pretty sick.  I’m still recovering, but at least now I’m out and about and not laying in bed in a haze of medication.  Sweet, sweet, medication.

Sometimes I ask myself why I continue doing this.  Writing these monthly posts is torturous because it forces me to reflect on what I’ve done, my productivity and what I could have done.  I can’t blame anyone else for wasted productivity and time because you guys wouldn’t let me…and I wouldn’t allow myself to cop out either.  So, torture it is, I guess.

For the first time since this blog began, I missed posting my usual birthday giveaway for my birthday on April 22nd.  There would have been a Kindle Fire in it for you guys, but, whoops!  Didn’t happen this time, but I’ll give something else away soon.

The Debt

Let’s see how this whole debt thing is going.

may 2013 chart
may 2013 debt

My debt looks like I didn’t make much progress last month, but don’t be fooled!  I actually added over $2,500 to my credit card balance last month because of an unexpected bathroom gut and renovation in one of the rental units.  I went to replace a bath tub, but you never know what you might find when you pull things up in an old house.  There will be a post about that soon with before and after pictures.

I’m quite happy with the outcome and how much the entire project cost since I could have expected to pay at least $10,000 for an entire bathroom gut and redo.  Plus, I love the look on the faces of the people at Home Depot when I walk in with work clothes and knee pads.  They’re always shocked at what I do, because females aren’t supposed to like construction work.  Ha! [Confidential to Sony, they know better now, don’t they?]

I decided to put those costs on my credit card to get the points.  I did cash in some points for $250 in April, so it’s time to build my points back up.  Also, putting everything on one credit card makes it easier for me to track my expenses at the end of the year.  Since I have time on my hands I really should begin tracking my rental expenses on a monthly basis. Speaking of the rental, you should really hop over to MyTenantFromHell.com and read the entire two part story about what happened during the renovation that caused me to serve an eviction notice on May 1.  It’s kind of unbelievable.

Where was I? Oh yes, the debt.  I am still a full month ahead of my car note and my student loan payment.  I have been making some extra payment to principal on the rental loan, but I might ditch that to pay the credit cards off.  I’m actually about to consolidate my balances onto one card through yet another 0% balance transfer offer.  I have not paid interest on my credit card debt in about three years.  Since my cards are with competitor companies, I have constant 0% balance transfer offers.  I play the cards against each other until they either eliminate the transfer fee altogether or until they lower the fee to 1%.  That’s always better than paying between 10-14% in interest per month.  I’ve shared that balance transfer strategy with you before and have made full use of it.  I might be in debt, but I don’t hate credit cards.

Online Income

I’m a big believer in having a Plan B or a side hustle.  This blog just happens to be my Plan B, but there’s also a Plan C.  Call me paranoid.  Anyway, let me share how much money I made money online in April.  My goal is to make at least $1,000 per month after expenses.

Google Adsense My Tenant From Hell: $0.11
Google Adsense YIAC: $181.51
Gogle Adsense Niche Site: $184.45
Private ads: $705.00
Ad network #1: $147
Ad network #2: $42
Total: $1,260.07

Even though I was down and own for the better part of half of the month, I still managed to meet my goal.  That’s because I handed off some work to others such as Nelson who wrote a couple of articles in my absence and my ad manager who negotiated a few deals for me.  Of course, when you hand work off, you have to pay to get that work done.  Because of that my expenses rose to $197.45 netting me a $1,062 for the month.  So, I did make my goal for the month, but $1,000 each month is not going to cut it if I’m not going back to work for a while.

I need to set the bar higher to get to my goal of quadrupling my monthly online income. So, it’s time to be aggressive.  I believe that words have power and if you put something out there, especially in front of the three people who read your blog every month (hi Atsuko) then they will invariably wonder what happened if you never mention it again.

Here goes.  I will double my income to $2,000 in May.  Notice that I didn’t say that I would try to do it.  To quote that great philosopher Yoda, “Do or do not. There is no try.”  I’m such a nerd.

What I Learned In April

I learned that there are two very important things in life:

  1. Your family
  2. Your health

If you have those two things together, everything else is gravy.

I also learned a lot about accountability.  I’m so sorry to say that a lot of people in my generation and younger do not know how to take responsibility for their own actions.  They play the blame game and point fingers at everyone else then sing “woe is me” expecting everyone else to coddle them.  This problem is caused by parents who coddle us, allowing us to be adolescents for way longer than the actual number of years that we spend in that period.  I’ve witnessed that a number of times this month with my (soon to be) former tenants, with a number of people on television and one particular “personal finance” blogger who I won’t call out specifically.

Many bloggers read other bloggers, but personally, I don’t have time to do that.  However, I did unfortunately stumble into a blog of another “personal finance” blogger who refused to take responsibility for her financial situation.  She blamed her sibling, her mother, her grandmother, her former employer and the universe for  herbad financial situation.  She wined throughout her blog about all of the things that she could not do.  When her readers pointed out alternatives and passed along helpful recommendations that would help her, her response was often dismissive and sometimes downright nasty.  I just could not believe what I read.

If you are in debt, the first thing that you must do is take responsibility for your debt.  I know that many people have medical debt weighing them down, but you wouldn’t blame the doctors for the debt, would you? Instead you would say, “I was ill. I did not have medical coverage to pay for those bills, so I now have medical bills that I am responsible for.”

If, like the blogger who I ran into, you decided to quit your job and then live off your grandmother’s good graces to pay your rent for months at a time, you really can not blame your readers for turning on you while you look down your nose at things that you would not do, while blaming everyone else in your life for your situation.

ACCOUNTABILITY

Accountability is my word of the month.  Be accountable!  Take responsibility for your life and its future direction while learning from your past.  I saw a quote that seems appropriate; “Life is tough.  It’s tougher if you’re stupid.”

Finally, I’m working on an eBook on getting out of debt.  I’m about 35 pages in so far with about five to ten pages more to go.  Don’t worry, it’s not some “give me $97 and I’ll tell you the secrets of the universe thing”.  I’m trying to decide if there will be a price tag on it at all.  Maybe free for subscribers?  We’ll see.

Kiss your moms for Mother’s Day and I will see you next month.

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8 thoughts on “May 1 Debt Check In

  • Hey Sandy

    Excellent read. Accountability is probably one of the biggest issues I see among people I know when it comes to debt and personal responsibility. You know I’ve commented before and I’m a long term reader. Your philosophy is close to my own although I haven’t yet gotten to the point where I am working on a second passive income stream. It is however one of my goals this year.

    Someone said something recently to me which I very much took to heart.

    $1 off your expenses goes straight to your bottom line and equates to $1 in additional income immediately. However; only a portion of each $1 in additional income or revenue goes directly to your bottom line after expenses because said additional revenue or income requires expenses typically to gain the increase. Therefore it is always in the best interest of the individual/business to focus on reducing unnecessary expenses first and foremost and then work on increasing revenue or do them concurrently realizing the net difference to the bottom line is higher from reducing expenses. This includes managing interest on debt, simple expenses you wouldn’t otherwise think about and taxes.

    Kevin

  • Once again, Excellent!

    This reminds me of the singer Toni Braxsion that said it was Oprah’s fault that she had to file bankruptcy. If you’re interested look into it. I had to laugh out loud. I blame myself for my finances when I was younger. Which are not too bad. I paid 5 bills late when I was younger that are still hunting me in my dreams.

    Any who!- Still waiting for that cup of coffee you promised me Sandy!

  • At least you are going in the right direction. Looks like you are not unemployed, but self employed. That the best type of employed to be. I hope I can get to self employed at some point. Maybe you can shoot me some of you tips to getting there!

  • Great article! I love the word of the month — accountability. I will definitely agree with you that a lot of young people do not have this word in their dictionary. It saddens me because it is one important value that we must all have in life.

    I am looking forward to your eBook.

  • There’s something about posting your goals for the world to see that motivates you more. 🙂 Good luck!

    I couldn’t find the second part of the “My Tenant from Hell” story. Is it posted?

    I know you talk a bit here an there about your rentals, but have you done any articles about overall cost so far compared to the rents and whatnot? I was just wondering if they were profitable from the start or when you expected them to be so.

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