Year in Review Results:
Your life as a business
It may seem unsentimental to think of your life as a business, but it is. The fact is, every year there is a profit and loss to your financial life. You have invested a year of your life and what do you have to show for it (in financial terms?) Are you closer to your goals? Are you nearer to retirement? Are you building a financial foundation? For many years, I was running in place. Instead of building a financial future, I was spending to make myself feel better today.
And my income would solve all of my financial problems. Or, so I thought.
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Looking back at 2017
Looking back at 2017, It’s easy to forget how much progress I’ve actually made.
- My finances are back on track,
- I’m debt free,
- and my car is paid off.
I’ve tried to chronicle my decisions both good and bad the past year. For example, when I became discouraged over the summer and I hit the wall after I had to forgo a U2 concert because of an upcoming estimated tax payment.
I was used to spending whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. So, planning my purchases and delaying gratification was a sacrifice I made this year. I make a good amount of money, but my spending was always going to limit the growth of my net worth.
I made big strides this year. But, I’m not going to lie to you. It was hard. I put in a lot of work. Here is the playbook I used. It is simple and straightforward.
Taking Action: I negotiated discounts on all of my recurring charges. I switched to a less expensive gym, I sold nearly $500 of my things on Ebay. I stopped using a storage locker. I started writing this blog.
Coming to terms with my spending habits: I tried to understand where my money was going. I tried to slow down and learn why I wanted the stuff I was buying. I learned to budget. I set small financial goals and I hit them. I cut back. And I cut back even more. I paid attention to every single penny. I tried to pay attention to those purchases that created true value in my life. And those that added minimal value and I could live without.
“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” –Peter Drucker, Author and Business Consultant
Get organized: Creating a budget. I created a budget using a free app, Everydollar.com. It’s a very good app, but I didn’t keep using it. What worked well for me was old school: keeping a notepad next to my credit card bills. And keeping track of the good, the bad, and the unexpected in my monthly bills. I was also keeping track of my bills in my head because I became VERY focused.
Take Action: I negotiated discounts with almost every company I was doing business with. I got discounts. I got price reductions. Ask for what you want. Make sure you aren’t overpaying for the services you’re using. Or cancel them. I cancelled my storage locker. I was paying nearly $99 a month to store items that I didn’t really need or want.
Results: Savings of ~ $600/ month. Total gain $6,000
Create Extra Income: In my opinion, the easiest way to create extra income today, is to sell your excess stuff on Ebay. It’s fast, easy, and convenient. Within a week or two, you can have money coming in. Also, it makes you realize how quickly our purchases lose value.
Results: $493 from EBay in one month.
Side hustle/ Create more income: I started writing an investment column for the website, Seeking Alpha. This was a side hustle. And it fit my interest in the stock market and as a writer. I wrote 78 articles for their site on undervalued stocks and those articles have received over 288,000 page views. I was paid more than $5,000.
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Use your time to create income, not more expenses.
According to a New York Times article entitled, How much Do we Love TV?, the average American spends 5 hours and 19 minutes of television per day. When I decided to get motivated, I realized that I much preferred being active and trying to earn money instead of being passive and consume other people’s content.
In my opinion, trading time for money will allow you to create the life you want.
Budget: Essentially, a budget is the process of deciding what is really worth your money. I cut out pizza from my budget. Yes, delivery pizza didn’t seem worth the extra $12 compared with the store bought kind. I decided my fancy gym wasn’t worth the extra $90 per month. I unsubscribed from store e-mails to make mindless shopping less tempting. I started to think about why I buy the things I buy. Deciding what is worth your money (and your time), is a really helpful exercise. Look at your credit card bills. I cut back on convenience purchases like food delivery. I was spending $44 a month on delivery alone.
Stay Motivated: I am a big Dave Ramsey fan. He created the debt free genre. And his podcast was very helpful to keep me motivated, especially when I hit the wall on this debt free journey. And if you’re just beginning to get serious about your finances, his book is a must read.
Year- End Results: Budget cutbacks: $6,000 +Side Hustle: $5,000 + Car paid off: $6,000 = $17,000
The benefits: Running my life more like a business means that each quarter and especially at year-end, there is a profit and loss to my financial life. I actually know that I spent less than I made this year. That I made enormous progress financially. I paid off my car. I contributed to all of my retirement plans. I paid my estimated taxes on time. I created extra income to speed up the process. I grew both financially and personally. I learned that so much of the typical purchases I made in the proceeding years were not that fulfilling to me.
There is no doubt in my mind that you could have similar results in your own financial journey in 2018. Go for it!
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