Extra Income Summary: June – Bikinis and Niche Sites

June Income Summary - Niche Site ExperimentJuly is here – that means summer is almost over and it’s already time to start thinking about what the hell we’re going to do in the fall.

We love spending the winter in South Florida – I mean, come on, who wouldn’t? But truth be told, we’re tired of doing the same thing each year. Winter in Fort Lauderdale, Summer on the Chesapeake. It’s becoming redundant, and the whole reason we moved onto a boat was so that we could see new places and go wherever we want.

Unfortunately, the “wherever we want” part is the tough one because I’m still tied to my computer for 8 hours a day, and that’s just with my day job… so hopping off to the Bahamas, or down to Belize or Panama is just not doable yet. But I’m stressing the yet.

I’m slowly but surely planning my exit strategy from the full-time job, and in all honesty, if I were to just quit tomorrow, I could possibly supplement a good part the lost income pretty quickly because I’d have so much more free time to dedicate to creating other income streams, but until I get to a certain point in my side income, it’s no sleep ’til Brooklyn, so to speak.

Niche Site Experiment

Speaking of other income streams, I’ve been experimenting with niche sites as an income stream. If you don’t know what a niche site is, well, I’ll be talking more about it in the next post, and in more posts to come.

I created my own niche site in January, and had no idea what I was doing, really, but it ended up still being ok, because it has taught me more than I ever knew about things like SEO optimization, Adsense, and affiliate income.

Since that first site, I’ve started a couple more, and while I admit that I haven’t made much money off of them yet, they are slowly becoming more profitable. They are now ranking high in Google, and there’s definitely an upswing because my Adsense revenue in June was 15x higher than it was in May! That’s a 1500% increase in one month!

I’m also learning about buying websites and flipping them – although I’m not there yet (you gotta have the money to spare), there are smart ways to do this, but there’s more to it than just finding what you believe to be a marketable domain name and listing it for sale or using it for your own PDN, or Private Domain Network. I’ll post more on that later once I have some experience with it.

Extra Income Summary - June

So here are the totals for June. The below is my side income only. It does not count the income I make from my job, nor the book sales or the honey’s freelance income.

Web Design Work: $185
Sales/Commissions: $210.80
Affiliate Income: $27.43
Adsense: $59.04
Writing Gigs: $0

TOTAL: $452.27

While I’m not breaking any records this month, I am proud of the Adsense increase, because that was all my doing. Tweaking something here, getting better SEO here, and so on…

My affiliate income was also better than last month, and that is due largely to the niche sites as well.

My sales/commissions were higher, but I didn’t have as much time to dedicate to web design jobs which definitely pay a little more than the other stuff, although they take up so much more time. One site that I designed that I’m extremely proud of is for an artist/painter based out of Newfoundland. You can check out her site at TaraBryan.com.

I also updated the website for my jewelry shop, Maggie & Milly. I’ll be adding more product, but I’m thrilled with the new design, and grateful to my friend Jessica at MJsailing.com for her contribution… aka the smokin’ hot bikini shot you see on the front page.

Maggie and Milly - Website Screenshot - jewelry inspired by the sea

Speaking of bikinis, I better put down my wine and get some beauty sleep so I don’t look so haggard in my bikini this weekend for the Fourth of July celebration.

Peace out, y’all!

Extra Income Summary – May – Sail Away, Sail Away, Sail Away

May Side Income Summary - Sail AwaySo May’s income report is super late because we were sailing! What a concept, right?

We  spent a shit-ton of money in May because we need to do some stuff to the boat before we headed out to sail. New standing rigging, new running rigging, new roller furler, jacklines, provisioning, etc. It was a pretty nutty month, and we were literally rigging up the new roller furler the night before we pulled out of the slip!

We also had to shell out over $500 smackers to board the pooch while we did this trip. It was worth it because he got to play and run around with other dogs, and we got to relax and not have to worry about whether he was comfortable. The hubs flew down once we reached Norfolk and picked him up at Camp Canine and they drove back up to the boat. It worked out well, but did I mention, we spent a shit-ton of money?

I thought about totaling up the receipts for everything, but thought against it because I was just excited that I was able to still actually put some money away. I have no idea how, but I did.

The Sail Up

The sail up was actually awesome. The weather cooperated perfectly, I had enough food on this boat to get us to China and back, and we had plenty of wine for the trip. Don’t worry – we didn’t partake (minus one beer each night at “Captain’s Hour”) until we officially got inside after being offshore for 5 days straight. We dropped an anchor at 6am the morning we arrived, and we promptly decided to get drunk.

Jack Sparrow - Yes, but why is the rum gone?

However, our goals of living by the WWJSD philosophy (What Would Jack Sparrow Do?) and cracking open a bottle of rum and drinking ourselves silly was just that. All talk. Although we did crack out the booze, we didn’t get drunk because we were too tired to drink a second glass.

Don’t worry, we made up for it later.

Extra Income Summary – May

So here are the totals for May. The below is my side income only. It does not count the income I make from my job, nor the book sales or the honey’s freelance income.

Web Design Work: $360
Sales/Commissions: $142
Affiliate Income: $4.19
Adsense: $3.54
Writing Gigs: $50

TOTAL: $559.73 

Whoa! Don’t be jealous of my Adsense and affiliate income. But it was still a decent month overall! Even more exciting is the fact that I was able to sink almost every penny of that into savings. As you can see, this month my affiliate income is suffering, and so far, I’ve never had too much luck with Adsense, but I want to definitely grow that income stream and plan to experiment/document my trials in a future post. In all honesty, I just haven’t taken the time to really learn how to get more out of my Adsense because right now, I’m putting my efforts elsewhere, but we’ll see!

There you have it. My post on June’s income will be up next. I’m excited to tell you about the Adsense income increase in June!

If you have any suggestions or questions, please leave a comment. Thanks for reading!

Budgets Are a Bitch

Budgets Are A Bitch - wine and corkOne of the things I have the hardest time with when it comes to saving money for our ongoing adventure is creating a budget. Add it to the list of many things that are just more difficult to do while living on a boat than while living on land… like hiding a fart.

For instance, while on land, our mortgage was always the same, so it was easy to budget for it. While on a boat, marina prices vary. While on land, shit didn’t seem to break all the time. On a boat… well, you know the story.

And let’s talk about wine… how the hell can I predict how much wine it’s going to take me to get through the month? I mean, what if I had a bad day and all I really want is a nice glass of Malbec, but our wine budget is already maxed out because someone decided that it was a good idea to drown her sorrows with the last little bit of the boxed wine after watching Message In A Bottle one night on Netflix? And not because the movie was so sad, but because it was so bad. How do you budget for that shit?

Thus begins my cycle of not knowing what we spend on anything because it’s never the same.  So basically, it’s like just pick a number – any number – and don’t go over it? NO. That’s a terrible way to do it.

In order to create a budget that you can live with while putting money back in savings, you have to determine as best as you can where your money is going and where you can cut back. Even if that means cutting back on wine. Just kidding. If you sit down and just create a budget with no real frame of reference, you may find yourself near the end of the month going way over in one category and under in another. And you’ll rob Peter to pay Paul, which is never a good idea. Peter can be a real asshole when you do that.

Creating A Budget That You Can Live With

So… (drumroll)… Here is my advice on how to create a budget that you can not only live with, but one that you can stick to. I am no financial expert, nor do I offer this advice as the only or best way to do it. It’s simply what works for me, so if you go broke or can’t manage your money, please don’t send me hate mail. But if you love it, please send me cash. Or wine.

  • Sign up with a budget tracking service such as Mint. This is a great way to get a general overview of your spending. While I don’t rely on it exclusively, the weekly spending report gives you a good idea of what percentage of your money is going where.
  • Get a receipt for every single thing you buy and save the receipts somewhere. Everything. Do this for at least the first several months – it’s the easiest way to see where you might be overdoing it. I don’t care if you bought a donut and that’s all. Get a receipt and save it. Anyone remember Mitch Hedberg’s hilarious routine on this very subject? I don’t care what Mitch says, get a stinkin’ receipt.

  • Get one of those accordion folders and, using your receipts, sort your spending into categories. Your categories may vary if you have mortgage, loans, kids in college (we are debt free except for a credit card with a $750 limit that we use only for the rewards perks and it gets paid off every month in full):
    • Dockage
    • Cell Phone (AT&T)
    • Internet (Verizon Jetpack)
    • Fuel
    • Boat Repairs
    • Boat Insurance (ACE)
    • Groceries
    • Eating Out
    • Entertainment
    • Booze
    • Pets

Next, add up your totals in each category. Are there any totals that surprise you? Chances are, you’ll be all, “No WAY did we spend that much in such-and-such!” But the numbers don’t lie. How do they look in hindsight? This is where you have to just be honest with yourself. It’s really easy to forego cooking in favor of a Burrito Mazatlan at the Mexican joint down the road, but if you recall, you kind of felt like shit the next day from that big thing and the 2 Pacificos you washed it down with. That’s $40 that you could have put into savings. Yeah, I know – that doesn’t sound nearly as sexy or fun, but then again, neither does sleeping in the v-berth with your husband/wife/partner after you’ve both had more than your share of refried beans.  Trust me.

Take all those numbers and figure out what categories you think you could (or should) cut back in. It’s important to be realistic, but also to be disciplined. If you are a movie buff and going to the movies (or having a Netflix account) makes you happy, by all means, keep doing that! Budgets are meant to be guides to help you stick to a financial goal or a plan – not to strip away every ounce of extra spending or fun that you’re entitled to after all the hard work you’ve done.

Now it’s time to create your budget using those numbers. Mint will help you do this, and they will periodically email you to help you stay on track, which is great, but I also still use a good, old fashioned spreadsheet, or even just paper and pen. I like to keep the categories pretty simple – you’ll basically have the same categories you made for your receipts, but you’ll also want to add categories like SAVINGS and TAXES. I always put a little money in savings first (pay yourself first, as they say), and if you work for yourself in any capacity, you’ll want to set aside a certain amount for taxes so you don’t have a Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot moment when tax season comes next year. You’ll be prepared, and as any boater knows, preparation is key.

Ideally, all of your expenses will fit nicely in your prospected spending categories and you’ll have a little left over at the end of the month to save, invest, or put towards a new goal. On our boat, if anything is left over, it either goes into savings at the end of the month, or it goes towards boat improvements.

Oh, who the hell am I kidding. It goes to wine.

Extra Income Summary – April – My Life Is A Sitcom

Greetings From Fort Lauderdale - My Life Is A SitcomI’m very excited about April’s extra income, but before I get into that, let’s just say that the weather here in Florida went from perfectly balmy, breezy 75 degrees to hot as balls overnight. It’s midnight as I type this, and it’s 82 outside, and hotter inside this damn boat. 82 doesn’t sound bad, but this is without the sun, and it’s muggy. I’ve got two fans going and it brings little relief. This is one of those times I feel bad for making fun of the people on our dock who turn their a/c down to 60 when it’s only 70 outside. I’d give anything to be on their frigid boats right now.

The Sitcom

Speaking of people on our dock, I must say this is by far the most interesting place we’ve stayed as far as the people are concerned. I mean, it’s a real live sitcom over here. Each of our new friends is as wonderful as they are crazy, and we will definitely miss them when we go.

Take a liberal ex-psychiatrist, a conservative former Navy pilot who’s in his 70′s but gets around like a 25 year old, a hash-brownie cooking gay restaurateur, a chain-smoking acupuncturist, a former Miss Texas, a Don Juan hockey ref, a pot-smoking Brazilian and his gorgeous, impeccably dressed Brazilian girlfriend, and a drug-dealing agoraphobic weird mass murder type, and it’s a total reality show. It’s more entertaining than a Seinfeld episode around here sometimes.

So that’s where we’re at. Everyone couldn’t be more different, but we all get along and have a great time hanging out with one another on occasion, except the drug-dealing, agoraphobic mass murderer. He doesn’t hang around and quite frankly, that’s fine with me.

April Showers – Makin’ It Rain!

Ok, so maybe it’s not raining like up in da club, but this was a great month for extra income, and the best thing was I didn’t have to hustle for it. Everyone came to me! First, I was contacted by an artist in Newfoundland who was referred to me by a client who I had done some web design work for about a year ago. The artist hired me to do a complete website redesign. It’s been really fun working on this project. I love art, and it’s wonderful to see the difference between her old site and the new one. I probably could have/should have charged more because the site has grown to be much more extensive than we originally anticipated, but since I consider myself sort of a newbie at web design, it was a win-win for both of us. I get to build my portfolio, she gets a new and improved website.

I also got another smaller web design gig from a client who had thrown me some business back in February which, if you recall, had been my best month to date for side income… until now. (ahem…spoiler alert).  I had a few sales from Maggie and Milly, my online jewelry shop where I sell nautical bracelets, but it was a pretty slow month in that department.

Book sales have remained pretty steady for You Gotta Go To Know, which is great, and we also had a wonderful surprise when we were told that Nashville Arts Magazine was doing a book review/feature piece on us in their April issue!  I’m not sure how long the link will work, but you can check out the story here.

So here are the totals for April. The below is my side income only. It does not count the income I make from my job, nor the book sales or the honey’s freelance income.

SIDE INCOME IN MARCH:  $330.94

Web Design Work: $900
Sales/Commissions: $262
Affiliate Income: $0.99
Adsense: $1.93

TOTAL: $1164.91 – A NEW RECORD! 

Whoa! Don’t be jealous of my Adsense and affiliate income. But talk about a great month overall! Even more exciting is the fact that I was able to sink almost every penny of that into savings. As you can see, this month my affiliate income is suffering, and so far, I’ve never had too much luck with Adsense, but I want to definitely grow that income stream and plan to experiment/document my trials in a future post. In all honesty, I just haven’t taken the time to really learn how to get more out of my Adsense because right now, I’m putting my efforts elsewhere, but we’ll see!

So that’s it, folks. April was pretty awesome for side income and it gives me even bigger goals to hit in May. What are your side income goals? Leave me a comment!

Stay cool, everyone!

April Life Update – I Got My Braces Off

I Got My Braces Off!

Something to smile about - I finally got my braces off

Image by Sias van Schalkwyk

Not too many people know this, but one of the reasons we’ve remained stateside, and spent so much time in South Florida is because I’ve been wearing Chinese torture devices braces on my teeth.  It’s a funny story because 3 years ago, Chris was helping to deliver a boat from the Bahamas to Norfolk. While he was gone, I went to get a consultation for braces. I had toyed with the idea of getting them for awhile but kept putting it off because I didn’t want the hassle, the expense, and even because I was afraid I would be more self conscious with them. Let’s face it – vanity can be a nasty thing.

Well, the orthodontist said I was a perfect candidate for braces and said, “We can even put them on today if you want!”. So me, being a sucker spontaneous and all , paid a hefty deposit and an hour later had a mouthful of wires and brackets and an oh-shit-what-did-I-just-do look on my face.  Keep in mind that Chris was a hundred miles offshore and had no idea that when he got home, he would not be greeted by his smiling girlfriend, but instead by Brace-Face. When he did see me, he loved them and told me how beautiful I was. Which is why he’s a keeper. However, I was pretty disappointed because I thought having braces would make me look younger and that for sure I would get carded when buying alcohol… no such luck. Dammit.

Fast forward a year and we decided to move onto our boat. Finding another orthodontist, especially one while we were traveling, proved to be difficult, but I did find the amazing Dr. Brilliant in Miami. Isn’t that just an awesome name for someone who works on your smile? Well, as my luck would have it, I ended up having to wear my braces for a lot longer than my original ortho had anticipated. When we went up to the Chesapeake last year, guess who had to fly to Miami for orthodontist appointments? This girl. How’s that for high falutin! Well, the other day, April 1st, I went in for what I thought would be a regular appointment, and to my amazement, she said we were finally done, and took those awful things off right then and there!  I was texting Chris from the chair to tell him the great news and he thought I was playing an April Fools joke on him. I honestly thought I might do cartwheels in their lobby. Anyway, I can now say that the long, torturous and expensive 3 years was worth it. I’m totally stoked with my new smile, not to mention the fact that I’m no longer paying hundreds of dollars a month for these things. It’s definitely not very cost prohibitive to switch orthodontists mid-treatment – overall, I paid well over $6k for these babies. Oh the things we could do on the boat for six grand!

Now that I’ve got an extra $200+ a  month that I’m not spending on my braces, I want to put the money towards something else… maybe set it aside for new rigging? Put it in savings? More wine? Who knows… I’m just glad to have it, but in the end, every penny spent was worth it. And I can eat beef jerky again. Whew. Sometimes it’s the little things you miss the most.

Have you ever had braces? Any other people out there who waited until they were adults to get them? What would you do with an extra couple hundred a month? Would you save it? Invest it? Put it towards a boat project? Leave a comment and let me know!