Monday, June 1, 2015

Loooooong Overdue Update

I haven't updated this blog in almost a year and a half. It's been way too long. I even forgot my username and password for Blogger and had to look them up. Anyways, a lot has happened in the past year. The biggest thing is that I got the cutest puppy in the world and she is the best thing that ever happened to me. Remington is a 8 month old female beagle that I got from a breeder in November when she was 9 weeks old. She has cost me a lot of money (I've spent well over $2,000 on food, toys, vet bills, obedience classes, daycare, crates, collars, leashes, etc) and she isn't the easiest dog to take care of but I love her so much. I can't imagine my life without her. Sure, I wish I could go on vacation whenever I want without having to try to find boarding or take a shower without praying that nothing will be destroyed when I get out but I wouldn't trade her for anything.

2014 Resolutions

I completely forgot about the resolutions I made in 2014. Looking through them, the only one I completed was buying a smartphone. I got a Motorola Droid Mini in July of 2014. I love it and don't know how I lived without it. I can easily check my email or bank account when I'm out of town without having to bring my laptop. Plus it has games, internet, GPS and so much more.

2015 Resolutions

I didn't make any resolutions for 2015 but I did get something done that was on my list for last year. I made a dentist appointment. Finally. I scheduled an exam and cleaning for the end of June. Although I'm not making official resolutions for 2015, I would like to be making over $2,500 a month by the end of the year. We'll see if it happens. I'll try to update this blog more often.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014 New Year's Resolutions

Goal #1: Rank 5 websites in top 10 for their keywords
Towards the end of November last year, I started 6 new websites. They are Amazon affiliate sites that should be able to fetch $500 or more a month once they hit the top 10 in Google for their keywords. I should be able to complete this goal within 6 months.

Goal #2: Save $500 in an emergency account
I would like to get this completed by June. I will need to put $250 into the account by the middle of March and another $250 into the account by the end of May.

Goal #3: Get under 150 pounds
I will need to lose 50 pounds. I lost 30 pounds in 2013 so 50 should be doable in 2014. I am going to aim to get under 175 pounds by March. I will have to lose around 3.5 pounds a week which will be very tough and unlikely but is possible. I will probably take a month off to maintain in March and then try to lose 15 more pounds by July. The last 10 pounds will come off between July and October. I’m going to lose the weight the same way I lost the last 30 pounds. I’m going to skip breakfast, eat a decent size lunch around noon, have a small snack around 2:30, eat a large supper around 5:30 and not eat anything after 7PM. I will also do 1 hour of cardio a day to start and will add in some weights later in the year.

Goal #4: Read 6 books
I had a goal of reading 12 books last year and that completely failed. I’ve noticed that I tend to choose longer books to read. In 2012, I read Gone With The Wind which was over 900 pages long. I’m still working on Don Quixote which is also 900 pages long. If I read short books, I could probably read one book per month. Since I’m not sure how long the books will be that I’m going to read, I will give myself two months to read each book and will, hopefully, get 6 books read by the end of the year.

Goal #5: Complete Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred in 30 days
I’ve done JM 30 Day Shred twice before but I always gave up after 3 weeks. I would love to get all 30 days completed.

Goal #6: Save $2,500 towards a house down payment/apartment security deposit
I saved up $5,000 last year towards a house down payment but then I loaned my parents $3,000 and spent $2,000 on new clothes and a vacation. Stupid of me, I know! If my parents pay me back, I will easily be able to accomplish this goal. I will still try to save $2,500 this year whether my parents pay me back or not.

Goal #7: Learn to tune my guitar
Last year, my goal was to learn to play 5 songs. However, my guitar would always go out of tune whenever I picked it up. I don’t know how to tune it so I would play it without tuning it. It would sound horrible and I’d get frustrated. I eventually quit trying to play it. Just learning how to tune it will be a good first step in learning how to play it.

Goal #8: Try 1 new recipe per month
I love to cook and trying new recipes. I tried a ton of new recipes last year including mozzarella sticks, chicken nuggets, crème brulee and meatball biscuits. I’m going to attempt 1 new recipe each month in 2014.

Goal #9: Visit the dentist
I haven’t been to the dentist in 2 years. The last time I went to the dentist, they found a cavity but I never made an appointment to have it filled. I hope to get that fixed this year as well as get my teeth cleaned and looking good once again.

Goal #10: Buy a Smartphone
I own a really crappy flip phone while all my friends own smartphones. I’m always borrowing my mom’s smartphone and wishing I had one of my own, especially when I want to post photos to Facebook or send out a tweet when I’m out and about. I also can’t send texts with my current phone which is super annoying. I’m pretty sure I know which phone I want, it is just a matter of coming up with the money to buy it and to pay for a monthly data plan.

2014 Already?! 2013 Year in Review

Where in the heck did 2013 go? It seems like just yesterday it was January 1, 2013 and I was making out my resolutions for the year. I can still remember how excited I was about writing lenses for Squidoo and was planning my trip to New York City to see the ball drop in Times Square (obviously, that didn't happen). 2013 was a decent year. There were both highs and lows. I got to go to Red Rocks for the first time to see one of my favorite bands The Avett Brothers along with Old Crow Medicine Show and I got to see Wilco, Richard Thompson, My Morning Jacket and Bob Dylan in Peoria, IL. I also lost a lot of weight in 2013. Business-wise, I officially filed paperwork to form a LLC. 2013 wasn't all fun and games. In June, Squidoo locked all 250 of my lenses which took my income from $1500 a month down to $100 a month. In September, my dad had another cancer scare and needed more surgery but he's fine now. At the beginning of November, my dog was put down because she could barely walk and couldn't hold her bladder. I still miss her tremendously and tear up whenever I think about her. {R.I.P. Jesse} I was able to complete a few resolutions this year but completely struck out on most. Here were my 2013 resolutions:

Goal #1: Publish 500 Squidoo Lenses – Rank 250 Lenses in Top 10 for Their Main Keyword. - Fail
Squidoo decided to lock all my lenses. I moved them to a new website that I started but they aren't doing so well. I'm barely making $100/month and they definitely are not ranking in the top 10 for their keywords. I only have around 250 articles posted on my website.
Goal #2: Save $500 in an emergency account - Draw
I saved up around $5,000 in a savings account but then my parents wanted to borrow $3,000 for new hardwood floors. I used another $1,000 to buy new clothes as my old clothes didn't fit anymore (see below). Another $500 went towards bills and now I'm down to $500. So, yes, I have $500 saved but I'm more than likely going to need the money in February for the vacation which I'll talk about below (I know, not smart to drain your bank account to go on vacation).

Goal #3: Get under 200 pounds - Success
I currently weigh 195 pounds

Goal #4: Read 12 books - Fail
 I've read Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, The Scarlett Letter and most of Don Quixote (300 pages left out of 900). I didn't come close to reading 12 books.

Goal #5: Ride my bike 10 miles - Fail
 I was so close with this one. I mapped out my route, got my bike ready, made a lunch and decided to check trail conditions one last time before I left and found that the trail was closed for construction for two months. Trip cancelled. Ugh!

Goal #6: Pay off 1 student loan - Fail
I paid my student loans on time every month for the past 8 months but I'm broke right now and going on vacation in February (I know, not smart). I am going to file for deferment to delay my payments for a year. Hopefully, my business will be profitable enough by then that I can make extra payments.

Goal #7: Learn to play 5 songs on guitar - Fail
I started practicing every day but the guitar doesn't stay in tune and my fingers can't get the strings to go down far enough. I think the guitar needs to be set up by a professional but I can't afford it right now.

Goal #8: Learn to make Crème Brulee - Success
I made Crème Brulee a lot this year. It's pretty easy to make. Egg yolks, sugar, vanilla, half and half and heavy whipping cream. Mix the ingredients, strain and pour into custard dishes sitting in a pan of water. Bake and let cool in the water. Refrigerate overnight. The next day, boil sugar and water until the sugar starts to melt and quickly pour it over the creme. It will instantly harden into the perfect sugar crust. Yummy!

Goal #9: Get health insurance - Success
I was able to qualify for Medical Assistance through the Minnesota state health exchange called MNSure. I love Obamacare/Affordable Care Act! The last time I applied for MA, they wanted me to send in a ton of paperwork with proof showing that I'm self-employed. It was a big headache and I ended up not bothering. This time, I just filled out a form and I was approved. My coverage starts today!

Goal #10: Go to New York City for my 30th birthday - Fail
I couldn't afford to go and I'm glad I didn't. It is frickin' cold outside so I don't want to travel anywhere unless it's to someplace warm. I especially don't feel like going to New York City and being tortured by horrible singers (Miley Cyrus, Mackelmore, Lady Gaga, etc). Instead, I've decided to go on a cruise to celebrate my 30th birthday. We (my parents and I) booked a cruise out of Miami to the Bahamas at the end of February. We are also going to the Daytona 500 so that will be fun. My first Sprint Cup race. The only other NASCAR race I've been to was a NASCAR East/West Series race at Iowa City back in 2009. Kyle Busch won and I got to see him do his bow for the fans. It was pretty cool even though I'm not a big fan of his. Even though I failed on this resolution, I actually succeeded because I'm doing something even better instead.

I'll be posting my 2014 resolutions soon.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

6 Month Update

2013 is officially half way done. Is it just me or does it seem like time is flying by? It seems like just yesterday I was making these resolutions. I already have one of them done and I'm making progress on others but some of them probably won't get done this year.

Goal #1: Publish 500 Squidoo Lenses – Rank 250 Lenses in Top 10 for Their Main Keyword.
Change of plans for this goal. Squidoo went on a lens locking spree and locked many lenses without saying what was wrong with them. Luckily, I only got one lens locked but it made me mad enough that I don't want anything to do with Squidoo. I started a new website that I will write product reviews for. I hope to have 500 reviews completed by the end of the year. I am making over $1,000 a month on Squidoo and I hope to make three times that amount from my website.
Goal #2: Save $500 in an emergency account
Nothing yet. It will probably be a few months before I can even tackle this. Amazon decided to "fire" all affiliates from Minnesota. This means that I need to start a LLC in another state to keep my account. This will cost me around $500. I also need money for my vacation next week. I should still be able to get this resolution complete but it might not be until October or November.
Goal #3: Get under 200 pounds Get under 175 pounds
Complete!!! I started watching what I eat and exercising at the beginning of March and have lost 25 pounds and officially weigh 198 pounds. I am changing this goal to 175 pounds.
Goal #4: Read 12 books
So far I've read 2 books this year - Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (stupid book) and The Scarlett Letter (pretty good). I started Don Quixote but am not even close to being finished. I'm on page 50 out of 900 so it will be a while before I get done. I should be able to do a lot of reading on my vacation next week. It's a 14-18 hour drive one way and then another 18-20 hour drive coming home (taking a detour through Illinois). I hope to get at least 2 more books completed during the trip.
Goal #5: Ride my bike 10 miles
My bike is all cleaned up and ready to go. I just have to find a place to ride it. I'll probably start riding it when we get back from vacation.
Goal #6: Pay off 1 student loan
My first payment after deferment is August 7th. I haven't paid anything towards my loans this year. I hope to pay a little extra each month but I don't think it will be enough to completely pay off a loan.
Goal #7: Learn to play 5 songs on guitar
I started practicing every day until the beginning of June and then kind of lost interest. I still really want to learn to play but the guitar I have makes it hard. It never stays in tune and the strings are too high. I need to take it into a music shop to get it set up right but that costs $100 which I don't have right now. Not to mention that the closest music shop that will set up guitars is 2 hours north of here.
Goal #8: Learn to make Crème Brulee
I don't have enough money for a torch right now but I might just go ahead and make them using the broiler in the oven. They probably won't be as good as the ones I had on my cruise in 2011 but I think they will turn out okay.
Goal #9: Get health insurance
Again, I don't have enough money right now but the Minnesota Health Insurance Exchange is scheduled to launch in October so I should wait until then to get health insurance anyways. I might qualify for reduced or discount insurance based on my low income.
Goal #10: Go to New York City for my 30th birthday
I really, really don't think I'll be able to afford this. I'm hoping for a miracle.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

2013 New Year's Resolution Update

I figure that now is as good time as any to post an update on my new year's resolutions. Quickly regarding the last post, no I am still not on a schedule (which is why I'm writing this at 3:30 in the morning). Anyways, here's a recap of my resolutions and how I'm coming along on each one.

Goal #1: Publish 500 Squidoo Lenses – Rank 250 Lenses in Top 10 for Their Main Keyword.
I've only got 100 lenses published so far but they are making me a ton of money. I'm already at $600 a month. Squidoo is going great for me and it's only getting better. I'm now a Giant Squid which means I get cool stuff like templates that save time and more time to work on lenses that get flagged. Speaking of flags, Squidoo is running a filter next week and flagging bad lenses. I'm sure many of my lenses are going to get flagged but, since I'm a Giant, I get 3 weeks to fix them before they get locked. My goal from now until July 6, when I go on vacation, is to publish 5 new lenses a day and update 5 old lenses a day. This should give me around 550 lenses total and it will keep my old lenses updated and away from the filters.
Goal #2: Save $500 in an emergency account
I have nothing in my savings account right now but I've made a budget for the next 3 months and should have this done by the end of May.
Goal #3: Get under 200 pounds
I started eating healthy and exercising at the beginning of March and have lost 6 lbs in 3 weeks. Only 14 lbs to go to get below 200 pounds. I should get there by July!
Goal #4: Read 12 books
So far I've read 2 books this year - Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (stupid book) and The Scarlett Letter (pretty good). I'm not sure which book I'm going to read next but I think it is going to be that Don Quioxe or something-like-that book. It's a comedy and I can't exactly remember the name of it. I'll probably have to read 2 books in one month to reach this goal but I expect I'm going to be doing a lot of reading on my road trip to Colorado in July.
Goal #5: Ride my bike 10 miles
It has been freezing all spring. The snow is finally beginning to melt. My parents are going to Indiana for a week in June so I'll have lots of time to myself. This is the perfect opportunity to take my bike out for a nice ride somewhere.
Goal #6: Pay off 1 student loan
Haven't thought about this one yet but my deferment ends in July so I'll think about it then. I should have my emergency fund set up and be making a couple thousand dollars a month from Squidoo so I can throw extra payments at one of the loans.
Goal #7: Learn to play 5 songs on guitar
I'm planning on doing this when I've got the house to myself in June. I'm going to spend a couple hours a day learning chords and notes. I know it will take a couple months to get comfortable enough to play the songs but a couple hours a day for a week should give me a good start.
Goal #8: Learn to make Crème Brulee
I have a culinary torch saved on Amazon and I'm going to buy it as soon as I have enough money saved up. I also found a great Creme Brulee recipe. I'll probably buy the torch and some ramekins in May or June.
Goal #9: Get health insurance
I have decided which insurance plan I'm going to go with but I want to have my emergency fund established before I enroll. It's $162 a month and includes maternity (I'm single, living with my parents and don't have a boyfriend - however, you never know what might happen in the future). It has a $2,500 deductible and it pays 100% after that. I'll need to save up the amount of the deductible in case I ever need it.
Goal #10: Go to New York City for my 30th birthday
I've looked into flights, hotels and touristy stuff and this is going to be really, really expensive. If I start making at least $2,000 a month from Squidoo, I might be able to swing it. I'll probably start doing some more planning in July when I have a better idea of what my finances look like.
So there you go. I'm making great progress on all my resolutions and I'm on track to finish a couple of them. I hope to accomplish all of them but it'll depend on how much money I can make. I'll post another update in June or July. I'm going to Colorado in July so maybe I'll wait until I get back to post the update. Until then, keep working hard at making your dreams come true.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

What I Would Love To Do... to get on a set schedule. It is 2:10 AM right now and I'm cruising Facebook and playing computer games. I should be sleeping or working. I would love to be able to have a set work schedule. A few hours a day where I would only work on my niche websites or my Squidoo lenses. Instead, I sleep in until noon, do some work in between lunch, snacks, watching TV and getting dressed (which I usually don't do until supper time). Then I might do some work while watching TV at night. I could probably get twice as much work done if I set aside 3-4 hours a day just for work. I could get dressed in work clothes, sit at my desk and actually work. No distractions. No TV. No Food and no Facebook. I have no idea how to do this. I think I'm going to try to set aside 4 hours to work tomorrow. I'm only going to work during those 4 hours and after the 4 hours are done, I'm not going to think about work. I think I'll work from noon until 4. This means that I have to be awake, dressed and fed by noon so that I'm ready for work. I'll take one small break for a snack at 2 PM. After 4 PM, I'm not going to think about work. I'll spend the evening relaxing and doing stuff I enjoy like reading or learning to play guitar. Or I could watch a movie. I'm hoping that this will make me more productive with work stuff and more relaxed when it comes to personal time.

On a side note: I already screwed up my budget this month and for months to come. I did a stupid thing and bought concert tickets. The concert is in July and it is 12 hours from here. I'm planning to camp to save some money but I'll have to spend a lot in gas money. I told my parents that I'm fine going alone but they aren't fine with it so they are coming along - reluctantly. My parents have been talking about going on a family vacation out west for the past two years. I keep getting excited about it only to be let down by their lack of planning. I finally decided that if they weren't going to do anything about it then I will, so I bought the tickets. I figured that if they had to go west for the concert, then we might as well do the family vacation then. However, my mom is mad because they don't want to go on vacation in July. She thinks it's going to be too hot and wanted to go on vacation in the fall. I should never have bought the tickets but I need something concrete to look forward to. I have all these plans but nothing is confirmed yet. Anyways, the tickets weren't too expensive - $50 each and I bought 2 - but they still hurt my emergency fund that I'm trying to build.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Change in Goals

It's only the second week in January and I'm already changing up my goals. Actually, I'm not changing the goals themselves but I'm changing how I'm going to get them accomplished. And I'm adding a goal. I want to buy a house and my new goal is to buy one by the end of the year. I would like to get a fixer upper for around $30,000 (around here that is a totally reasonable price for a decent home that needs a little updating) - paid with cash - and then get a home improvement loan to fix it up. I'll probably need to save $40,000 for the house just to make sure I have enough for insurance, taxes, closing costs, inspection and anything else that pops up. I would also like to have $1,000 in my emergency fund instead of $500. This new goal will also make it 100 times harder to complete my goal of NYC for my birthday. I'm still going to try though. Here is my action plan to achieve this new goal:

Step 1: Pay off my line of credit. I have a line of credit of $250 that I used to buy Christmas gifts. I should be able to get this paid off before the end of the month. I have $100 in savings plus I'm getting another $225 from Amazon at the end of the month.

Step 2: Save $300 to fix my car. My car needs an oil change, a new battery and a car wash. It also has something wrong with it that I haven't been able to figure out so I'll likely need to take it to a mechanic. I'm hoping that it doesn't need more than $200 worth of repairs. I should be able to complete this step in February.

Step 3: Save $1,000 in my emergency fund. I'm not sure how long this will take. I'm going to try to do surveys on Mturk and whatever I make from there will be deposited into the account. I also have a huge box of stuff to sell on eBay so that will be more money for the account once I sell it.

Step 4: Once I have $1,000 in my emergency account, I can begin to save for a house. Just like step 3, I will be depositing any money I make from Mturk and eBay. I can also do freelance writing work. I'm hoping to get my Squidoo lenses to $1,000 or more per month so that money will be deposited into the account as well. I'm expecting that it will take many, many months to get to my $40,000 goal. It might even take all year. I would love to have enough saved up by October.

Step 5: Buy a house. This might be before I reach the goal for step 4, depending on if I can find a cheap enough house. Sometimes, a really cheap house will show up on the market for $20,000 or less. If it is in a decent location, I like the house and the repairs are cosmetic, I might buy it. Some houses on eBay have owner financing with no credit check so I could also buy a house from there. Otherwise, when I reach my goal of $40,000 I will get a Realtor to help me find a house in my price range.

I would love to be in my own house before my 30th birthday. It's going to be tough and I'll have to make a lot of sacrifices but I think I can do it.