At the beginning of the year, I posted about my new, exciting vision for the New Year and promised to update you. Read on to see how we did in January.
Giving and Random Acts of Kindness
The Rockstar Community Fund (RCF) is the driving force behind this goal. As my friend, Fritz@TheRetirementManifesto states, the RCF is creating a “ripple in the pond” effect, spreading good and kindness that starts with a small, simple act of generosity and goodwill.
Giving is great for the community, but it also fulfills our inherent need to be a part of something larger than ourselves. And this is one of the keys to true happiness.
I committed to doing at least one random act of kindness, and/or give one unexpected gift, each month this year.
Here’s how I did in January:
- I still had the December RCF $20 card to give away (since I used my own card in December). I gave this to the secretary at my daughter’s school, who always stops her work to smile and chat, even though she’s very busy.
- Contributed $20 to the RCF
- I gave the town librarian $20 to pay late fees for others.
- I paid a $20 fee for a friend, who I know would have a hard time coming up with the money.
- I gave my daughter’s hairdresser a $10 bill (besides the tip)
I tried to be mindful of giving in non-monetary ways too – holding doors, offering a smile, and simply talking to strangers for a moment. A grocery store clerk and I exchanged recipes. I listened as my daughter’s hair stylist talked about some hardships in her life. Sometimes people just need someone to listen.
I have to be honest, I still haven’t focused on monetizing the blog – At. All. I don’t go out of my way to seek out sponsor ships or affiliates. I want to write what I want to write and I am picky about what I recommend. The blog brings in some money through ads and a couple of affiliates, but this only occasionally covers expenses. It’s possible I won’t truly monetize until I create something of my own, such as an ebook. My income went down 80% over December (Christmas gift lists were a huge income boost in December). But I have quarterly goals, so it’s not officially a fail (we’ll have to see in March).
Traffic has seen a boost, though. Between the No Spend Month Challenge and a post that went viral for one day on Pinterest (I wouldn’t have guessed this), I did see a 21% increase in traffic in January. Currently, traffic is down, so the quarterly goal is yet to be seen.
We made two offers on potential rental properties in January and were outbid on both. On the first property, we were competing with owner-occupants – they can and will offer more than we can.
The other one was a fantastic deal. We made a cash offer – $6000 over asking price – and lost it to another investor. After running the numbers over and over (thanks to a fellow investor for helping us with this – you know who you are!), I now think we should have offered more.
I’m chalking it up to a learning experience. And, maybe, it just wasn’t meant to be. Life has thrown us a curve ball that a renovation would only complicate (more on this below) .
Straight from the Mad Fientist Laboratory, here is how long we have until FI, if we stay the current course:
That’s 4 months less than last month!
Recently, after working with Ms. Montana on my long term goals, I’ve realized we can engineer Alan’s exit from the 9-5 sooner than this, but this will depend on the real estate investing, increased savings, side hustle income and health.
Last year, our savings rate was 46%. My goal is to get it to 51% in 2017. Our savings rate in January was 36%. This may seem low, but I have extra money sitting in the checking account right now. Also, we front load our IRAs and I haven’t sent this money to Vanguard yet this year.
I admit, it’s taken me some time to start sharing more personal information on the blog. But, as time passes, I’m more comfortable sharing.
Black Belt – Alan and I tested for our 2nd Degree Black Belt (TaeKwonDo) in December and received our belts last weekend. As a not-so-athletic 41 year old, I consider this a win.
Blue Hair – My daughter dyed her hair blue. Again. On her dime. I admit, it’s pretty. I just hope when it fades she doesn’t regret it. Teenagers and life lessons. 🙂
Health – I admit, I’m am not a huge fan of going to the doctor. I’ve had this knee/leg issue for 10+ years and, though I mentioned it to my family doctor and had it checked several years ago, I haven’t pushed for an answer. Now I realize I probably should have.
I managed to get by in TaeKwonDo, but noticed I’ve lost more range of motion and am having more pain in the past few months. So I dubbed 2017 medical year and vowed to figure it out.
What I thought would be a simple fix is far from it. While the MRI indicated my knee is in perfect structural condition, it also showed numerous cysts in my leg. I’ve been referred on to Mayo Clinic. I don’t have any solid answers yet. But, I admit, the internet has taken me down some rabbit holes I should have stayed out of.
Unfortunately, with that news, our search for rental properties is currently on hold. We’d don’t want to be in the middle of trying to reno and rent a property while trying to deal with medical issues at the same time.
Also, blog activities will slow (actually, they already have). There’s nothing like a health issue to really put life into perspective. I love blogging and will do as much as I can, but health and family need to come first.
That’s it for me. What a month! Here’s to a fantastic February! 🙂
Photo Credit: Another awesome Iowa picture from my son, Jake!