Juicy Details: Income, Expenses and Am I Going to Sink or Swim? Pt2

| February 17, 2014 | 36 Comments

This is the second edition of my income/expense report on my business so far. The first update can be found here. Up until last June, I worked for a small internet marketing agency. I’d been a part of their team since graduating from college six years ago. I did quite well there, learning an incredible amount about life, business and leadership. I was happy as can be for most of that time, but life has a way of giving signs when it’s time to move on and continue to grow and prosper. It was clear that my future opportunities for growth and making the biggest difference I could in the world were outside of that role. So, I did what I had to do. I told my boss the news and set forth to make my mark on the world.

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“But, Kraig”, everyone said, “How will you make a living?” That question has been a tough one to answer, but I remain confident that things will work themselves out. I have this sense deep down that says, “as long as I make good decisions and do what’s good for me and for others, I’ll be just fine”. That voice has been right so far and I have no worries of that changing in the future. Ever since I started improving myself with the goals of making myself a better person and making this world a better place by helping and caring about others, things have gotten better and better for me. It’s funny how that works out.

For those of you waiting for an update on what I’m doing and where I’m at, today is your lucky day.

What I’m Doing

I’m working hard. I’m learning all I can about how other entrepreneurs have made it. I’m writing and connecting with others as much as possible. I’m trying all kinds of new things.

I’m surrounding myself with inspiring people. Some of the people I know in real life inspire and lift me up on a daily basis, but many of the positive people in my life are out here on the internet. I take in podcasts and blogs daily where other strong willed entrepreneurs lift me up to feel like I can really make a difference in this world. They say that you are the average of the five people you hang around with the most. I’m choosing to hang around with people who lift me up. At the same time, I want to lift others up so that they want to hang around with me (get in touch with me and I’ll do my best to lift you up!).

I’m trying to enjoy this time. Even though this time is incredibly stressful and I doubt myself constantly, I make it a point to take full advantage of the freedom I have today. I do this by getting outdoors as much as possible (which isn’t possible too often here in the Minnesota winter). I also do this by spending as much time with close friends and family as possible. Doing these things have greatly increased my quality of life and attitude throughout all of this.

I’m keeping in mind that the worst case isn’t that bad. Will things pan out or will I burn through all my savings just to start right back from nothing? My answer to that is this: I may burn through a lot of my savings, but life has forward momentum and I’ll have the lessons I learned and relationships I built no matter what, so I’ll never start back from nothing.

Where I’m At

I’m usually not a fan of sharing income and expenses. Perhaps, I just don’t have the guts to have everything criticized. Today, however, I’ve decided to share it. I know many of you are curious as to what the numbers look like, so here they are:

I’ve spent an average of $1,950 per month (up from $1,800/month at last update) during the past four months since my last update, at the end of September, 2013. On the income side, I’ve earned an average of $547 per month (up from $430/month at last update) over the same period. Here’s the income breakdown:

  • Investment Dividends: $67/month
  • Affiliate Income: $157/month
  • Online Course Sales: $223/month
  • Blog/Website Consulting: $100/month
  • Total: $547/month

That leaves a net cash flow deficit of $1,403 per month, which translates into $16,836 per year. At this rate, I have approximately three and a half years left before I burn through all of my cash held in savings and checking accounts (Note: I sold 70% of my index fund shares at year end at the height of the stock market to convert more to cash). Burning through all that cash can be done without touching my year and a half or so worth of living expenses that are still tucked away in Vanguard index funds. I hope to not have to touch most of the cash I have on hand and instead raise my income up above the $2,000 per month level within the next year to eighteen months. I plan to do this by creating more of my own products and services (like the online course I created recently) and making them available here on this site and on site’s of affiliate partners.

Deeper Explanation of My Income

Investment Dividends: My income from investments, the $67 per month, is the dividends I receive for doing absolutely nothing but being part owner in every single publicly traded stock in the U.S. stock market. This is great income because it takes no work and it comes in no matter what. It is down significantly from last fall due to the fact that I sold off about 70% of my shares at the end of last year when the market was at an all time high, yielding me a long-term capital gains profit of over $11,000 (which I likely won’t have to pay federal income taxes on due to my modest income in 2013).

Affiliate Income: The affiliate sales are from helping a few of you start your very own blog (thank you very much for supporting me), something I didn’t know you wanted help from me on until last fall, but glad to have been of service. As my community here grows, I’m so thankful that you value what I do enough to want to support me. If you’re interested in starting a blog of your own, check out my free video series on the topic, which also gets you an invitation to join my new blogging course, Create My Independence with Blogging.

Online Course Sales: During the course’s VIP launch, I sold several copies, yielding just under $1,000 in revenue. I plan to continue to drive sales of my course going forward through a series on webinars on the topic of starting and running your own blog and the benefits of doing so (see my free video series for more).

Blog/Website Consulting: Through the various relationships I’ve developed throughout the past two years, I’ve been able to score some consulting projects here and there. More recently, these projects have been more and more focused around the technical skills I’ve developed from growing my blog and building my own online course. I was recently hired to help a fellow entrepreneur build the back-end website for his own online course because he liked mine so much. In the future, I’d like to pick up a few more of these projects so if you’d like help building your blog or website, or custom designing it, let me know. I can also help you create a membership/course website along with set up an email opt-in/auto-responder strategy to grow your email list. Send me an email at kraig@createmyindependence.com and let’s connect.

Is This Good… Or Bad?

For all of you downers out there, yes, I’m losing money, every single month (although due to cashing out at the market high, I’m only slightly down in total net worth from where I started from last summer). But, for all you uppers out there, I’m bringing in 28% of my expenses just 6 months after going out on my own! That’s up from 24% four months ago, after completely shutting down all advertising on my website AND having higher expenses to boot.

All in all, I’m excited about the possibilities ahead. Am I scared? Hell yes, I’m scared. But, I have years before I’ll need to tap any more investments at the pace I’m going. That’s years where I can build relationships, create value, learn, try things, fail, try things again, fail again, and hopefully try things once more and catch some success.

All I’m looking for is that little bit of success among all kinds of good failure (the kind I learn from) to get to where I want to be. It’s going to be incredibly tough and the emotions will continue to run wild, both positive and negative, but I remain confident that I’m on the right path.

Category: Learning New Things

Comments (36)

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  1. It’s good to hear about the progress you’re making, Kraig. There are many roads leading to Rome. I’m on a different one than you are, but I’m happy about that: now I can learn about a new route. I hope yours gets you where you want to go.

    Man, I am flipping sappy today.

  2. Lance says:

    Glad to see things are getting better. Hopefully you’re just about to hit some exponential growth to burst your income over your expenses!

  3. Katie says:

    It’s great seeing you make progress without giving up any part of daily lifestyle. Not too many people would say they were comfortable going on a vacation in the situation you’re in. Just goes to show how important planning and living within your means is.

    Keep it up Kraig!

  4. Kraig,

    Adding to the comment by DB40 above, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

    You’re making steady progress day by day and month by month. I’d say that covering more than 1/4 of your expenses without having to sell your soul to the man is pretty solid after such a short period of time. The internet is an amazing invention, isn’t it? The fact that you can make a decent income without having to slug off to a regular job is pretty cool, in my opinion.

    Keep it up, man!

    Best wishes.

    • Jason,

      Glad to hear from you man. I hope you’re enjoying your two weeks off from work.

      That’s exactly how I look at it. After I did the math today on the past 4 months and figured out I was covering 1/4 of my expenses, I was pretty surprised. That is pretty sweet and the fact that it’s steadily growing gives me all kinds of hope. In a year from now, it’s likely that I’ll be covering my expenses because hey, my expenses are fixed, yet my business income is growing and has so much potential.

      We’re both going to get there, to a point where we can do what we want, when we want. It’s just a matter of time.

      Talk to you soon, my friend.

  5. Ross says:

    Nice job man! 28% after 6 months is an amazing start. All you need is a little exponential growth and you’ll be set for life.

    Personally, I’m running into a little apathy around blogging. How have you dealt with apathy?

    • Ross,

      Thanks and you’re right, with a little exponential growth (which is the way things work in business), I’ll be set at least for now.

      So, you mean you’re lacking interest and passion for blogging? How do I deal with that? Well, it does happen. In fact, I feel it a lot. The way I’m dealing with it is working to form a business that doesn’t rely on my blog. My #1 goal is to build relationships and whether that happens through the blog or outside of it is irrelevant to me. I actually don’t love writing at all. It always has been very tough for me to write. But, I do it because it’s good for me and my business and it helps me connect with people like you. It’s necessary for the direction I’m heading.

      All in all, my advice is if you’re not feeling it anymore, slow down how much you blog, but don’t quit. That way, you can keep things alive and well on the site, and at the same time, give yourself a break. I see people posting several times a week and I think (oh my gosh…), I would burn out soo fast.

      Take care and let me know if you want to Skype sometime.

  6. I love getting to follow along on your journey. I don’t think I’d have the balls to quit and go on my own if there wasn’t a significant income source already coming in. Of course, that’s what your savings are for but still. That’s awesome that even with higher expenses you were able to increase your coverage with higher income. Keep at it and keep us updated!

    • JC,

      Sometimes, I don’t think I’d have the balls to do what I did, but then I realize I did it (and I get a bit anxious). But then, those days come that I realize it was a good choice because I’m forcing myself to go out of my comfort zone (and believe me, I’m way out of it) and make things happen.

      Until I added up the numbers on the past four months and saw that I hit the $500 mark, I didn’t realize I was making that much progress. I tell ya, this is quite the journey. Glad you’re able to follow along too. I find it tough to spill all the beans on everything, but with the push from people like you, I’ll struggle through sharing everything I can with you about the journey. I know it’s something I’d like to follow if I wasn’t me.

      Thanks again and I’ll talk to you soon!

  7. Wade says:

    Good work Kraig. Some baby steps with a few leaps will get you there.

    I thought I would update you on my plight (if you call it that). I left my 20 year job for a large software company last Sept. I took a 3 month “sabbatical”. It was a great time off and was much needed. After much thought and deliberation I decided to go back to working for someone else for the time being. Primarily because I wanted to sock away some more $ before really sticking a fork in it in 5-6 years.

    I did think about it a lot and decided to go back on my terms. I am working from home (consulting for the big software product I worked on for 12+ years). I am working 35 or so hours a week with no travel. I did take a pay cut, which I am ok with.

    I ended up sticking with “my experience” because starting over was really starting over.

    I don’t know if this would translate to your situation. Could you be very picky, work from home, work less hours and still work in the area you have experience? Can you be paid by someone else and still have your cake and eat it too?

    Keep the updates coming.

    Wade

    • Hi Wade,

      Great to hear from you, buddy. Glad you enjoyed the 3 months off and I hope you got some much needed rest and relaxation in the meantime.

      Your situation sounds pretty nice to me. Working from home (nice!), no work travel (nice!) and less money (which probably means less stress).

      Yes, I could likely to that. It’s an option that I may or may not pursue, depending on the opportunities that arise. Having cake and eating it too is always a good thing, right?

      Will try to keep the updates coming. Talk to you soon, Wade.

      • Wade says:

        Well..it isn’t utopia. I’m still tied to my office for 7-8 hours a day. I can’t do what I want. Which is pretty much the status quo these days.

        How much time do people get to do what they “want” these days? There might be enough topics there for a blog.

        I do find that I spend less with near zero driving and not having all that free time to do “projects”.

        But I do find myself needing to get out of the house at times.

        Should be interesting.

        • Wade,

          Keep us all posted on that. Sounds like a pretty cool deal. Driving hardly ever is pretty great. And I feel you on needing to get out of the house at times. I’m there right now, which is why I’m heading outdoors here in a bit. So nice out today!

          Talk to you soon,

  8. I love it! I love the fear. It’s healthy.

    It reminds me of that story about Cortez burning his ships. Burn them, man! Your subconscious mind is working harder than ever to find a way to win when you do that…..

    • Hi Joe,

      Great to hear from you. Oh yes, gotta love the fear (I suppose). Sometimes, I think my subconscious mind needs a break from working so hard! :) It’s been going strong for quite a while now.

      Talk to you soon, my good friend.

  9. Kesha Brown says:

    This is fabulous Kraig! As long as there is an increasing trend in your income, you’ll make your goals! I know it can be scary but from following you these last couple of months, I can tell you have the determination and persistence to achieve your every desire! Many blessings to ya!

    ~K

    • Hi Kesha,

      Welcome and I’m so glad you found me here. Thanks so much for the encouraging comment. I think you’re right. When I stopped to look at the trend of increasing income and opportunity, I thought the same thing.

      I do have the determination. The biggest challenge is handling the doubts and dealing with my own self. I tend to be hard on myself quite often and that can be pretty tough to deal with. I’m my own worst enemy.

      Thanks again for stopping by and let me know if ever want to talk. I love meeting new people and just chatting via Skype or what not.

    • Kesha,

      Wow, I just looked and your site and LOVE IT! I’ll definitely be reading up and digging through what you have to offer. Keep up the great work!

      • Kesha Brown says:

        Awww Kraig, you are awesome for that wonderful comment! Glad you stopped by and, like you, I love meeting new people as well! A skype convo would be great one day. I’ll reach out to you!

        P.S. Most of us are our own worst enemy. For instance, when I was on my way to the gym this morning after not having been there in 2 weeks and waaaay off my eating plan, I had a bit of a talk to myself on the way there. Needless to say, it was more of a berating session than anything else. However, I asked myself, “Would you talk to someone else like you’re talking to yourself right now?” The answer was no. So I immediately started talking to myself like I would a friend. I actually felt a lot better too and had a great workout! :D

        I share that because I know exactly what you mean and maybe this technique can help others as well (sometimes, may not work all the time) LOL

        ~K

  10. Nice progress! I’m sure if you keep things up, you’ll be able to be cash flow positive by the time your savings runs dry. I have no doubt!

    • Hi Sam,

      Thanks for stopping by and saying hi. That’s the plan and I’m going after it. I appreciate the confidence. Hope things are going well with you. Let me know if there’s anything I can do help you achieve your goals.

      Talk to you soon,

      Talk to you soon,

  11. Carrie Smith says:

    This is awesome Kraig! I know it’s a slow (but steady) start to your solo biz career and I’m thrilled for you. Carving out your own path takes guts but I know you have the drive and talent to make it a success. Thanks for sharing your numbers — it’s always interesting to see how other people earn their income online!

    • Carrie,

      Thanks. It is slow and tough to get this thing going, as you know. I’ve noticed your group growing like a weed lately. Congrats for that!

      We’ll have to catch up soon. I’d love to hear about how things are going with you.

      Talk to you soon!

  12. Sarah says:

    I admire the ambition and courage. No one becomes successful with out taking some risks.

    • Hi Sarah,

      I appreciate the kind words and encouragement. You’re right on that, success does require risk. That risk can also help motivate you to do great things. It surely is doing that for me.

      Take care,

  13. Kraig, you’re awesome for posting your income report. I think we all want to hear about the success stories and root for the underdog. You are currently the underdog who is building his success story.

    What’s the emoticon for blowing a raspberry at the haters?

  14. Ashley says:

    Kraig,

    YOU ARE DOING SO WELL! 28% of your expenses is amazing- and don’t forget that it technically has only been a month(ish?) that your course has been out- so covering an average of 28% even with 3 months of no major product for sale is AMAZING!

    Also, you should consider starting a motivational coaching service… our chat Friday made me feel a BILLION times better, hahaha. Thanks for that :) Keep doing your thing and soon you’ll be bringing in 2800% of your expenses!

    • Hi Ashley,

      THANKS so much for the support and positive feedback. I enjoyed our chat on Friday and look forward to talking again tomorrow. Hopefully we all three make it on time tomorrow!

      I appreciate the suggestion on being a motivational coach. I’d love to do it. Maybe someday I will be able to make that happen!

      Talk to you soon,

  15. Thanks for the update Kraig! Sounds like you are making great progress and really building a nice foundation for sustainable streams of income. I’m sure in no time you will get that income up to meet your expenses!

  16. Kraig, just found this through Critical Financial – awesome work, my friend!! Good for you for jumping ship and building your own business. I’m quite confident that you’ll reach your goal of meeting your expenses through the biz – keep up the great work. :-)

    • Laurie,

      Thanks for stopping by. I’ll be sure to thank Jim for sending you over. I really appreciate your support and encouragement. Let me know if I can ever do anything to help you.

      Talk to you soon,

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