Lessons from a New Self-Earner: Learning about Investing

Photo Credit: OTA Photos

Photo Credit: OTA Photos

I love the internet, regardless about how much I complain about YouTube trolls and the constant influx of baby pictures on my Facebook stream. I love it because I can learn almost anything with the internet. I can also earn money using the internet. I met my fiance because of the internet. I released an album because of the internet.

I’m writing to you right now because of the internet.

Whenever I have a problem I can’t find myself, I watch videos. I read. I do as much as I can to absorb knowledge. For me, videos come first and if I have a thirst, I read. If you read this blog regularly, you already know I’m interested in data analysis. But I’m also interested in investing. The problem is, I didn’t actually know the real basics behind investing.

I look at things this way: capitalism is a game. It’s ruthless and the stakes are incredibly high, but it’s a game nonetheless. Well, every game has rules. To succeed in a game you, of course need to know the rules, but that’s not really enough. See, capitalism is full of unfair advantages. I can definitely delve into that further, but I’ll save it for another article.

Anyway, I have a problem: I want to get into investing, but I have some things working against me. I learned about the things working against me by watching an accessible video on investing: William Ackman: Everything You Need to Know About Finance and Investing in Under an Hour

Seriously. If you have an interest in investing, but have zero background, watch this video

That said, I’m not telling anyone to run out there and start dumping their money into stocks. I’m just saying I’m looking into dabbling in investing, but not before I have a nice lump of cash stashed away. In the meantime, I have a few questions while I continue to learn:

  1. How easy/difficult is it to earn $30K a year with investing. I’m not saying that’s what I’m trying to do (yet), but let’s just say I’m interested. Also, I realize this isn’t a simple question to ask, but curiosity has me nonetheless.
  2. How many people get into investing with an exit strategy in mind?
  3. I know investing is basically gambling (even gamblers have a strategy) so I should expect losses if I get into this. What is the baseline profit/loss ratio that makes continuing worth it in the short term. Obviously, net profit/loss is what matters, but assuming I’m profiting, is there a ratio of profit to loss that I should strive for as a baseline?

Anyway, I’m just starting out so don’t mind me if I sound like a noob. While my girlfriend and I are separated by a massive body of water, I’ll be teaching myself some new things. Check out my Dream Chasers series to find out more about my future plans that are not just income related. Also, if you have any questions or helpful advice, let me know! Let’s all win together!

Peace out, party people.

Previously: Tim Ferriss Clones and the BS of Capitalism

My Journey Toward Financial Freedom: NY or Bust

IMG_5036

My girlfriend and I went to Central Park over the weekend and had an awesome time. After we got back home, bellies full from vegetable tikki masala and authentic New York pizza, we wondered what it would cost to live in New York for a while. Not permanently, mind you. Remember, I want to see the world. This would just be a cool start to a journey.

Here’s the thing: New York is expensive. Rent can get as high as nearly three times the national average. That’ll put a damper on a freelance writer/blogger’s wallet pretty quickly. But some people are doing it. Can I do it?

Well… I can, but I need to up my game when it comes to income.

With my previous income, I could easily afford a $3000 apartment. Now? I want to go for something more around $1200-1600. But I can’t do this haphazardly. I need to make sure I have a budget in place – one that still leaves wiggle room for disposable income. One tactic that I was using a few months ago, but have moved away from more recently is tracking how much money I need to make per day in order to hit my financial goals. This is a practice that worked for me exceedingly well when I first began freelancing. Otherwise, I’m fairly horrendous when it comes to budgeting.

The next thing I need to do is have a list of my monthly necessities/bills (Some of these are over-estimated):

  1. Rent ($1600)
  2. School Loans ($1000… sigh)
  3. Internet ($80)
  4. Cell Phone ($50)
  5. Metrocard ($112 30-day unlimited)
  6. Groceries ($200)
  7. Laundry ($50)
  8. Utilities ($100)

So this brings me to a total of $3192. I also want to save $500 a month and have $500 a month for random expenses (not just for going out but also pursuing other business ideas. That brings my final total to $4692. Let’s just round that up to $4200.

This means I have to earn about $157 a day (including weekends). That number doesn’t seem nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I’m going to do more research and return with a tighter estimate, but this seems doable until I feel like moving somewhere else.

Going forward, these posts will be super-focused on getting to that number (we’ll just say $160). Earning that per day as a freelancer will be a challenge for me at first, but I’ll be showing my progress and will be pushing to make this happen as soon as I can.

Stay tuned for more.

Peace out, party people.

Previously: Redefining Wealth

My Journey Toward Financial Freedom: Redefining Wealth

The Origin of Wealth

What does wealth mean to you? In my twenties I thought is was having a huge house, expensive car, and millions of dollars in the bank.

Ah, so young. So naive.

Nowadays, my thinking has changed vastly. Maybe it’s because I’m a 33-year-old guy who got burned out by the wacky world of capitalism, but my time is much more valuable than money. Cash is something I need to keep the bill collectors from putting me on notice, but without time, I can’t spend time with my girlfriend,  hang out with friends, or pursue my many interests. If it was at all possible, I would forego money altogether in favor of time.

Such is not the way of America.

Therefore, wealth has taken on a new definition for me. It’s not just about time, but it’s also about what I own. No, I don’t mean random stuff I bought  or things I need to pay off. I’m talking more about things I own independently that either don’t cost me money in any way or earn me money in some way. What does this mean for me?

No car payments.

No mortgages.

Less frivolous spending on STUFF (i.e. things that I want, but have little value outside of my personal desire)

More frivolous spending on experiences that utilize my time in meaningful ways.

Not everyone will agree with this. Certainly not my parents. But I do notice once I became less captivated by typical consumer culture, I quickly found I don’t need as much money to survive. As such, it’s inevitable that my definition of wealth would change because money isn’t as big of a priority. I need money for certain necessities, but if I find ways to take care of those necessities on my own (cooking, growing vegetables, investing in solar panels, etc.), I don’t need wealth that provides excess. I just need wealth that provides time.

And bacon. I still need my bacon.

Peace out, party people.

Previously: Credit can Kiss My Butt

My Journey Toward Financial Freedom: Credit can Kiss My Butt

Credit cards

Photo Credit: Philip Taylor

 

This will be a quick one, folks.

I’ve given up on credit cards. When talking about financial freedom, some people focus on managing their credit rather than just being done with the whole system.

Or at least as much as possible.

As inconvenient as it can be sometimes, I’m paying cash for EVERYTHING. I don’t need credit in my life even if I’m better at managing it now than I was when I was younger. I know this isn’t exactly the route for everyone, but I’ll tell you one thing: once I stopped using them, I quickly realized how little I need them.

I have debit. I have PayPal. I’m good to go.

The trick is staying minimal. I only buy what I need and indulge only as much as my actual cash flow allows. It’s a simple system that some will criticize, but hey, it’s an unneeded temptation. Besides, my money should go to building future income streams, not someone’s interest rate.

Peace out, party people.

 

My Journey Toward Financial Freedom: Understanding Theory vs. Executing Steps

Coins

I recently realized my some of most popular posts are focused on earning freelance money and financial freedom. I also recently realized how many people capitalize on this by peddling their wares, claiming they have the secrets and answers to unlocking that hidden treasure. All you have to do is attend their seminar.

Or buy their book.

Or join their email list.

Some people may be legit while others only know how to make money from those who are seeking the same. The problem is, everyone claims to be an expert. It’s all quite… embarrassing.

I’m not going to be a guy that haphazardly tosses around rocks in my glass house; while everything I do online is my passion, I’m still trying to make money here. Not so much for the purposes of being rich, but so I can quickly get back to the things that matter in life for me. That being said, I’m knee-deep in this struggle of both caring and not caring about money. This means I need to figure out the best way for me to accomplish my financial goals, ideally with the following criteria.

  1. My happiness will not be affected. This is a non-negotiable for me.
  2. I can attain my goals with the least amount of work possible. Screw hard work for the sake of hard work. Seriously. This is a BS notion handed down by people who want us to keep our heads down and be a cog in the machine. This doesn’t mean there’s NO hard work. But I do mean I don’t want to work hard unnecessarily. This is where efficiency comes into play.
  3. I won’t violate my principles. No, not everyone can be bought.

Now that I put this out into the universe, I’ll leave you with this: earning money is not a skill. If you’re attempting to become financially independent and exist outside of the confines of a 9-5 job, don’t look at money-making as a skill. It’s the result of other skills. However, you can still understand the principles of making money. This is where I think many folks fall prey to the snake oil salesmen out there claiming they have the answer to earning money quickly. People are looking for steps when they need to learn the theory.

This is the difference between knowing and understanding. Sure, steps get you started, but they keep you limited. You will ALWAYS need that person who knows more. Understanding gives you the freedom to apply knowledge to multiple areas. That sounds more like freedom to me.

Anyway, if you have stuck with me thus far, I will quickly mention four areas one should understand when trying to earn money independently. Over the course of the next couple weeks, I am going to focus on  these in separate posts. I’ve struggled in these areas, but have done a good amount of research on reaching beyond my natural limitations. I do this by understanding the theory behind the following:

  1. Execution
  2. Communication
  3. Networking
  4. Persistence
  5. Collaboration
  6. Letting Go (this one is actually exceedingly important)

Anyway, I hope you all get something out of this. I’m still learning (as smart as I think I am, I don’t know if I’ll ever stop), but I believe in being open. You better damn well believe I’m looking to profit from my blog, but hopefully I can share my experience of doing so and more along the way.

Go get’em tiger.

Peace out, party people.

My Journey Toward Fianancial Freedom: Using YouTube to Grow an Audience

PewDiePie

Over the weekend, my girlfriend and I were talking about big YouTube personalities. I never saw any of his videos up to that point, but she introduced me to PewDiePie, the biggest YouTuber in the history of YouTubedom.

Trademarked.

Truthfully, he’s not my personal taste, but I totally see why he’s popular. Afterward, my girlfriend showed me the vlogs of a few people she likes. These were more of people sharing their lives. It’s pretty much what I’ve always wanted to do.

Oh yeah, these people make money from it.

Well, that’s all I need as motivation. I already started on a vlog, but now I’m going to make it a thing. I figure if it’s something I planned on doing anyway, why not make it serious?

In the past I had a decent run going. My most popular video was one I did for a guy named Athene. It’s a video for a song I recorded called Together to the Top and somehow I managed to get over 70K views on it.

Holy crap.

Believe it or not, I had no interest in maintaining those numbers back then. I just thought it was a cool little project. Well let’s see what I can do when I really put my mind to this.

So I’m going to try my hand at this. My immediate goal is to try and get myself up to 500 or so views per video. After that, I’m going to see if I can join up with a  network so I can further grow my audience. When I started my vlog, I was aiming for Monday to Friday. I think Monday/Wednesday/Friday is a much more conservative goal as it won’t detract too much from my blog and other projects.

Anywho, you better believe I’ll be monetizing these videos. I mean, I wouldn’t be posting this under “Financial Freedom” if I wasn’t. Hopefully you’ll enjoy it if you check it out!

Also, if you ave a YouTube channel you want to promote, let me know! We all have something we’d like to share with the world. I don’t mind doing my part to help out a fellow dream chaser.

Peace out, party people.

Tracking My Progress: Week 7 – Becoming a Fulltime Writer

Blogging

Well, would you look at this; Andre’s back to his blogging ways. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Well, if you follow my blog, you know that my girlfriend moved in from Sweden last week. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t soaking in every single moment possible. As a result, I stopped blogging as consistently.

But I’m back, baby!

Okay, first let me say that I didn’t do much to make progress toward my goals last week. Life gets in the way sometimes, right? But those are the things that make life worth living. Trying to make money is just a false necessity.

But I digress.

So let me tell you what I decided. I’m going to do everything I can to become a fulltime writer. It’s time to really test my mettle and create the life I’ve wanted for so long. My girlfriend being here is a hell of a motivation, for sure.

Let’s get into it, shall we?

So if you remember, I make about $47 a day from my part time gig. That’s not that much. Sure, that’s across seven days and I’m not counting any overtime, but you can see that’s not a ton of money. The rest of my cash is made in writing gigs.

I haven’t hit $100 a day yet. But what if I instead focus on increasing my current writing so I can cover $47 a day? I just thought of that while writing this.

Yes, folks, this is how I write. Total stream of consciousness.

I finally signed up for Scripted so I can start knocking out jobs. Some of these pay decently enough for me to reach my goal. I’m going to start on this as soon as I’m approved to write.

I applied to write for htpc Beginner as well. My articles do, of course, have to be approved. As such, I’m going to spend some time today searching the site and seeing what they don’t have. If at all possible I want to see which of their pages gets the highest hits. Is there a quick way to do that?

If anyone knows, let me know. Otherwise, I’ve got my buddy, Google, to help me out.

I love you, Google. Even when you punch my blog in the stomach.

There are a few other smaller gigs I have, but there’s no need to go into detail for those. Also, I’m not counting any work I do with TripleCurve as that money was more for the $100 goal, not this new $47 income replacement goal.

I think I fell into the same trap into which many writers fall when they try to acquire gigs: I sold myself short. There are higher paying gigs out there, but without a modicum of hustle, I’m never going to get there. I have to commit to this hardcore.

This also means a change to the way I’m going to push this blog.

Right now, I shoot links out to Facebook, Twitter and Google+ every time I publish a new post. I want to try something out. It’s a theory I have.

Some people who go to my blog check out more than one post. Other people only view the one I advertised. I’m going to throw in a few mini posts and not blast them on social media. I want to see how well they do. The reason for this is I want to increase my content, but I don’t want to alienate my audiences. Many of these people were following me before I began this blog so it’d be stupid to kill them with links like I’m some robot.

This tactic will also allow me to vary how I advertise. I need to figure out what tiles grab people’s attention more than others. My blog is a mix of subjects so I need to figure out if it’s worth it for me to keep this all under one blog or split topics into more focused blogs. Maybe that’ll result in more focused audiences.

We’ll see.

At the end of the day, I’m just trying to make a living doing what I love. I’m only being open about all of this because I know many other people share the same dream. Go for it.

Do it.

Now.

I’m waiting…

Well, whenever you decide to make that amazingly scary jump into working independently, let me know how I can help. I’m learning along the way so maybe you can take something from my successes and failures. After all, if a number of people have the same dream, why can’t they achieve it together?

Peace out, party people.

My Journey Toward Financial Freedom: Crunch Time

3407749381_fbebfd62f6_o

My girl is moving in with me this Saturday! Exciting times for sure, but I’m still not where I want to be financially. It it what it is. I need to accept this lifestyle takes some time to cultivate.

The problem with me is I’m totally not a patient person. Keeping the mindset of living in the moment certainly doesn’t help.

Damn, damn, damn!” (c) Florida Evans

I’m going to take a gamble on this book and make it my focus for the next few months. I was originally writing two books to satiate my ADD, but I notice I’m making wayyyyyy more progress with one than the other.

Ride that wave, baby.

So I’m giving myself until the end of the year to wrap this bad boy up. The cool thing about it is I can already see how I might be able to write a few follow up books that are related to the same topic. I have this t-shirt idea I’m pursuing with my buddy, Pat, as well, but writing is something I can easily do on my own. There’s podcasting too, but that is definitely a labor of love for now.

Then there’s my debt which is almost all comprised of student loans.

Ugh.

Can I ever attain financial freedom with that monkey on my back? I need to figure that one out, because with my previous job, I was making double payments each month to get them down to a manageable place. Right now, I’m struggling just to make that payment. Once again, this is by choice so I can’t complain too much.

So here I am at another crossroad.

Word to Bone Thugs.

I know if I sell my car, I can go about five months without worrying about my loans. Hell, I was planning on selling it anyway. Maybe I just need to speed up the process.

But this isn’t enough. I’m also separating my debt from my monthly bills. Factoring them together is a mistake for me because I need to set end goals. Debt (hopefully) has one while monthly bills don’t. They’re not in the same category so why plan around them as if they are?

Next time I post my weekly progress, I’m going to provide my new method of calculating all this crap and provide a breakdown of how I plan to cover monthly expenses while also keeping a “debt fund” to which any excess money goes.

Now I just need to start making excess money, heh.

Peace out, party people.

My Journey Toward Financial Freedom – Planning Stage

4749264031_5e014040eb_o

Ohhhhh man, I’m pretty excited. My girlfriend is moving in with me in three weeks. All the way from Sweden no less. This means I have to get my act together and start making some real moves.

So here’s what I’m looking into this week:

  1. Cancelling my car insurance
  2. Selling my car
  3. Cashing in shares I have with my old employer

With those out of the way, my current major expenses will be down to the following:

  1. Rent – $1200
  2. School Loans – $1100
  3. Electricity/Gas – $150 (over-estimation)
  4. Internet – $75

So with this, you see how earning $100 a day (my current goal) is enough to cover my bills.

If not, you suck at math.

But why the hell am I paying so much for rent when I could start on my nomadic lifestyle now? Well, I have a few things I need procure first:

  1. New Laptop – Can’t work remotely without it.
  2. PO Box – If I’m going to be taking on the life of a nomad, I need a place to send my mail.
  3. Storage – I might be able to get away with storing some of my stuff at my parents’ place. If not, I’m just going to invest in storage.
  4. Home Base – This would be a place, most likely in the US, that I plan to keep rented while I’m out and about in the world. Colorado and Arizona seem like affordable options.
  5. Updated Passport – Duh.

All of this is great, but $100 a day isn’t going to cut it. The laptop is priority because I won’t be able to work on-the-go otherwise. The passport is obviously the next priority. Everything else is optional.

That said, this is just my goal. Life has a funny way of guiding one’s journey despite their ambitions so I’m not going to fight whatever comes my way. If I stay in the US longer than intended, so be it.

I’m still going to do it on my terms.

Final Thought: My friend Fallon had an idea about taking a tour of the US by train. How awesome of an idea is that? I may just steal it.

Peace out, party people.

Tracking My Progress: Week 3 – Making Moves!

Happy Sunday! Week 3 has had a lot of ups and one or two downs. I took a big risk and declined a well-paying job because I knew it would eat all my time.

Also, I’ve been actively trying to avoid the trap of a traditional full-time job. Remember, being rich isn’t my goal. HAPPINESS is the goal. Hopefully the same goes for you.

Highlights

  • Scheduling my work has helped somewhat, but I need to start sleeping at somewhat regular hours in order for it to stick. I’m thinking about adopting more naps to see if that’ll help rather than a regular sleep session.
  • Freelance writing work has been good, but I need to keep it up this week because one of my steady gigs doesn’t have anything for me yet.
  • I have an option to convert to full-time at my part-time job next month. If that happens, any money I make from freelance writing can go into savings and building side businesses so I can eventually quit the full-time gig.

Income Results

  • Target Daily Income Goal: $100
  • Week 2 Daily Income: $60
  • Week 3 Daily Income: $68
  • Week 3 Daily Income Goal: $67
  • Week 4 Daily Income Goal: $100

Here’s the thing, I made it a dollar over my daily goal without working on Monday (Labor Day) or Tuesday (job interview). Not too shabby I’d say.So screw it; I’m going to throw caution to the wind and see if I can indeed average $100 a day this week. Realistically, I think I can average $150 per day if I really hustle, but again, this isn’t about me being rich. I just want to make my bills an after thought so I can pursue my dreams.

  • Part-time job: $47 per day minimum (sometimes I do more hours)
  • Freelance writing: $53 per day minimum

Okay, this is totally doable. Last week I actually focused on trying to make $100 a day from some of my writing jobs because that’ll allow me to work hard some days and be a lazy bum on others. Either way, I’m pretty confident about achieving this. Once I do I’m going to raise my goal so I can focus on saving and building a side business.

Bam. A little persistence and the right circumstances go a long way.

Business Building

I had a different goal for building a business when I was younger. I wanted to come up with something that would get me that Bill Gates money so I can do my Dame Dash dance on a boat with Jay-Z.

dash-pimpin

God, I was stupid in my 20’s.

Nowadays, I look at business as a way to cover my expenses which are not much. I would have no problem providing something of quality for an affordable price. If I ever grew a business to the point where I’d need employees, why would I need to make more than my expenses and the little amount I’d want to save? That money should go to the people actually doing the work.

Wait, you mean capitalism can be implemented in a fair way?

I’m working on a business idea (a product, not a service) with one of my buddies. I’ll share it when the time is right, but hopefully it will be something that also spreads a positive message.

Final Thoughts

Week 3 was a confidence booster, but I can’t get complacent. There will always be obstacles that get in my way; I can’t let myself be one of them.

Now is the time to start learning how to use my money efficiently. I’ve said time and time again that I am as anti-capitalist as it gets, but I have to play the game. For now at least. So it’s time to learn about using my money to build a business.

Peace out, party people.

Awesome Articles and Resources
This Guy Makes $100 a Day Using iWriter (A little cheap for my blood, but I’ going to use it as a backup option) 
TripleCurve (Where I make most of my content mill writing money. If you’re good they’ll put you on a number of projects)
Selling on Instagram