Status: Not Good
August involved a lot of travel for me that I had not budgeted for. To start I went to visit my family for a week down at the Jersey Shore and then immediately jumped on a flight down to New Orleans for an annual trip with friends from college. I hadn’t set money aside for either of those trips and will need to consider my options for next year even if that means not attending one of the trips.
I managed to save $107.28 in the month of August. This brings my total amount saved to $1,455.91. In other words I am now $1,877.42 behind the pace I need to save $20,000 by July 1, 2020. This is not a great start to say the least. I have been spending more than I have budgeted for and I have not been generating any additional side income which is also been a big reason for coming up short on my goals. Knowing how far behind I already am sucks but avoiding it (which I wanted to do) would be even worse because now I’m able to reflect back and dig into the numbers to see what I can improve, tweak, or eliminate to try and correct course and make up for the slow start. So what changes can I make? Well each month I’m looking at three things, How can I earn more? How can I spend less? and how can I be more efficient?
Side Hustle Income
This month was tough in the side hustle department. I didn’t manage to secure any surveys with Fieldwork East like I had last month and I haven’t been able to grow my followers for the blog, Twitter, or Instagram.
The survey’s are an unreliable situation and based solely on whether I qualify demographically so I’m not going to count on those moving forward like I have been. Which means I’m going to have to double down on creating an online product that I can eventually monetize.
The first thing I can do to improve this is to structure my posting habits. Up until this point I have just been trying to post as often as possible and it has lead to burnout weeks where I don’t even post at all. Moving forward the goal will be 2 posts per week.
I’m also going to spend more time researching SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to learn how to better position this website for increased traffic. Simply creating the content is only half the battle. Funneling people to it is going to be the real challenge.
On top of that I had my annual review for work and though my supervisor put in place with me a plan for a promotion in six months, the merit increase that will kick in this month ended up being much much smaller than I thought I had deserved and was going to receive.
This month I went over my budget by $803! There’s no excuse. I spend too much time eating out, traveling by cab (instead of cheaper alternatives) and from splurging on trips and other events that I don’t have the money for. There is no other way to put it, I simply need to spend less money. Yes, spending is only half the equation, but getting it under control is the fastest way to grow my savings for the time being.
The facts mentioned above are the obvious takeaways. But what can I do to improve upon those issues? Below are three things I think I need to be better at that will allow me to improve upon my spending habits and increase my side income.
- Continue to keep the process of habit building going
- Create more time to focus without burning myself out?
- Slow the reading/learning and execute before reading/learning more
Continue the Habit Building Process
I’ve talked about the power of habit in previous posts, and I’ve been working to slowly put things in place (ie The Aggregate of Marginal Gain) so that new habits become the default decision. Some of these processes have been using visual reminders to keep the habit at the front of my mind, eliminating distractions so that the new habit is the easiest choice by default. There are still aspects of my day to day life that I haven’t worked on and need to put in the effort to do so, so that I can get rid of the bullshit that wastes my time.
One of the most successful habits I’ve started and stuck to is waking up earlier. When I first started this blog I was waking up at 6:30 to be in the office at 7:15. Over the past two months I’ve slowly been moving my alarm clock 15 minutes earlier each week (again, MARGINAL GAINS ADD UP!) and am now waking up at 5am daily. This has been a tremendous help in adding an extra hour to my day to work on personal matters. I also enjoy that this hour comes first before I have to work for anyone else each day.
The habit that I have not been successful with is staying on top of my budget. I try to do go through and organize my mint account every Monday but often times I am finding that some of my purchases from the weekend still have not cleared, hence I would have to go back in a few days later and organize all of the new transactions that had posted. Moving forward I’m going to start organizing Mint every Wednesday so that I can batch all of the organization into one weekly sit down. This should help me decrease the time spent categorizing each transaction to the correct budget line, and hence I should be more easily motivated to stick to keeping my mint account organized.
Create More Time
Eliminating the time spent organizing my mint account is just one way I can eliminate unnecessary time wasters. I need to find other things in my day to day life that are wasteful as well. Letting things build up and batching them into one event is a great way to reduce the time it takes to do things. Why though? Because every time our brain changes tasks, it takes upwards of 20 minutes to legitimately regroup and refocus. By batching tasks we reduce the amount of times we are making our brains refocus. When doing this throughout the day it can often lead to multiple hours of time saved dilly dallying.
A few things I am going to try batching next month our my Instagram posts, writing my blog posts, and planning my week. I’m going to try creating all of my Instagram posts for the week in one sit down, my blog posts in another sit down, and I’ll do all of this by planning out my entire week instead planning daily.
Slow the Reading and Execute What You Have Already Learned
I’ve been focusing a lot of my free time on reading/learning how to:
- Create better habits
- Be more efficient
- Monetize a website
- Build better construction (work related)
What I haven’t necessarily done though is execute what I’ve been learning. So for September my plan is to stop reading and spend that time executing what I have already learned in the past two months. Once I have tried all of that I will decide what is helping, hurting, or what is wasting my time, because in the end I can read as much as I want but if I don’t act on what I’ve learned then I’m wasting space in my memory.
Be sure to keep an eye out for blog posts this month on how I’m acting on what I’ve learned so far. That should help hold me accountable to actually act on it.
Overall, I’m lucky I wasn’t in the negative this month. I got off of my budget and knew it very early on in August. I ended up saying fuck it and just ignored my budget for a large majority of the month. Moving forward I can avoid this mistake by continuing to build habits that force me not to do this. Better organization and an enduring commitment to improving my financial situation are the keys to sticking to this though.
What do you all think? Am I going over the top with this or should I be focusing on something else? Sometimes I think I’m being to detailed and robotic, but at the same time, I’ve found more time to work for myself instead of for my company, more time to work out, more time to relax, and overall my stress levels have been much lower. What I hope will make this blog unique is that it’s an ongoing experiment, so if you think I’m going about this in the wrong way please comment below. I am always curious for feedback.