March Passive Income Report

Another month has passed and I’m a little behind in posting my passive income report. This month my family and I finally took a vacation to the snow, and though there was little snow to be found, the small cabin and mountain surroundings were a nice respite from the day-to-day grind that we love so much. We haven’t traveled as a family in so long, and everything was surprisingly expensive—particularly if you buy ordinary items at a mountain liquor store—next time I’ll be more prepared! We are generally so frugal that paying for a trip seemed exorbitantly expensive, yet somehow really necessary. No matter what angle I looked at it, I was glad that I am fortunate to have real income beginning to trickle in.

So without further ado, let’s get into it.

American Express

This month I made $56.27 in cash back. It was another heavy-use month on my dark blue card. It was a bit more spending than I’d like, but the beginning of the year is often an expensive time for us as we pay the bulk of our insurances during the first three or four months of the year. That cashback is such a nice bonus. You know I love the American Express card with its 6% back on groceries!

Tab Bank

Right now, my ultra high-interest savings account at Tab Bank is not so ultra-high. This month I made a grand total of .44 cents but there is an explanation. For one, I have not been spending on that card, nor have I been depositing money into the account as is necessary for the higher savings rate. Tab requires a monthly deposit and 15 debit card purchases of $5.00 or more to sink in that high-interest rate. Now, the thing is, during this part of the year I am using some of my savings to pay off insurance and federal, state, and property taxes so this is not the time that I’ll avail myself of the higher rate. Unfortunately, their interest rate has dropped as well—when I signed on with Tab over a year ago, the interest rate was 3%. It’s dropped to a little over 1% which is still good, but a bit of a disappointment. I’ve spoken before about searching for another bank with a higher rate, and they are out there, but right now I’m organizing my accounts and mulling over whether I’d like to put more cash into the stock market—or at the very least have it in my stock account ready for use in the event of a significant drop. I’m quickly seeing how lucrative the stock market can be, at the same time, we all know the dual nature of the stock market and the potential for havoc that it can bring.

Dividend Interest

This month I made a good bit on dividends and it really helps give me some perspective on why I am investing and how grateful I feel to have taken the initial risk to get this far. Below is a list of my regular account, along with the number of shares of stock I own, and the dividend payment for this month.

Wells Fargo Bank (WFC) 10 shares $1.00

Pfizer (PFE) 15 shares $5.85

Johnson and Johnson (JNJ) 10 shares $10.53

Global X SuperDividend US ETF (DIV) 3 Shares $.28

3M (MMM) 20 shares $29.60

McDonalds (MCD) 45 shares $58.05

Monmouth Real Estate Investment Corp. (MNR) 10 shares $1.80

Newell Brands (NWL) 356 shares $81.88

Realty Income (O) 40 shares $9.83

Unilever (UL) 10 shares $5.14

Flowers Foods (FLO) 30 shares $6.00

Schwab US Dividend Equity ETF (SCHD) 5 shares $2.51

STAG Industrial, Inc. (STAG) 10 shares $1.21

LTC Properties Inc. (LTC) 10 shares 1.90

Kohls Corporation 10 shares $2.50

LTC Properties, Inc (LTC) 10 shares $1.90 

Invesco S&P 500 High Div Low Volatility ETF (SPHD) 50 shares $7.05

The total income from dividends in my regular account was $223.47.

Below are the dividends I earned in my Roth IRA account:

Wells Fargo Bank (WFC) 85 shares $8.50

3M (MMM) 10 shares $14.80

Global X SuperDividend US ETF (DIV) 3 shares .28

Newell Brands (NWL) 101 shares $23.23

The total earnings in March for my Roth IRA account was $ 49.92

My March totals are as follows:

American Express Cash Back: $56.57

Tab Bank: .44

Dividends: $223.47 and $49.42

For a Grand Total of: $329.90

To say that I am shocked by this amount is a real understatement. I never thought that I could change my income so drastically by the simple choices I make. I also need to emphasize that I am not a financial expert in any way—just a regular 53-year-old looking out for my family and our financial future. There are definitely other ways of approaching your retirement and other ways to invest, but I always love hearing how other people are doing it—especially the exact details. Give me numbers! In that way, I feel that I want to share how my investments are working for me.

Have a great week,

Andrea

February Passive Income Report

Most of February was spent preparing our taxes for the accountant. Honestly, this is the time of year when I walk through life with my head in the sand. We were audited by the IRS a number of years ago—combine that with a usually hefty tax bill and you can guess our stress level is really high.

This month I did not make significant gains in bank interest, mainly because this is also the time of year when I use our savings to pay property taxes and car and home insurance. The rest of the year I put money into our savings account in preparation for those expenditures. In addition to that, my savings account continues to have an annoying lowering of interest. As of this writing the interest rate is at an all-time low of 1.5 percent. I opened the account with a 3% interest rate. At the moment I am considering changing banks in order to get a higher rate. A number of other factors have made me question the use of my savings account as well. For one, I am no longer spending as much on non-essentials. My savings account requires using the debit card 15 times or more during the month in order to qualify for the interest rate. Not surprisingly, this has made me question whether I am simply ”spending the interest” to capture the interest. Not so smart really. At this point I have not had time to ‘do the math’ so I am not putting more money into that account, nor am I using the debit card enough to get that interest. Now that my taxes are done, I intend on taking a look at my finances and make a decision. Part of me is holding back because I have my eye on the stock market as a ‘richer’ investment and I’m wondering if it wouldn’t be wiser to hold more of my savings in stock instead of playing it safe and keeping it in a savings account. Right now, I’m undecided, but as you’ll see by my dividend income for February, the possibility that stocks hold is tempting—and real.

Dividend Income

70 Shares B & G Foods (BGS) $33.25

15 Shares Verizon (VZ) $6.28

60 Shares At&T (ATT) $31.20

10 Shares American Express (AXP) $4.30

4 Shares Enterprise Products (EPD) $1.80

3 Shares Global X SuperDividend US ETF (DIV) $.30

Green Plains Partners (GPP) $24.00

100 Shares Tanger Factory Outlet Centers (SKT) $17.75

40 Shares Realty Income (O) $9.38

531 Shares Diversified Healthcare Trust (DHC) $5.31

10 Shares LTC Properties Inc. (LTC) $1.90

50 Shares Invesco S&P 500 High Div Low Volatility ETF (SPHD) $7.26

Total is $133.57

Roth IRA Account

10 Shares General Mills (GIS) $5.20

50 Shares Enterprise Products (EPD) $22.5

3 Shares Global X SuperDividend US ETF (DIV) $.3

10 Shares Tanger Factory Outlets (SKT) $1.07

5 Shares Abbvie Inc. (ABBV) $6.5

10 Shares Stag Industrial Inc. (STAG) $1.21

68 Shares Diversified Healthcare Trust (DHC)$.68

10 Shares LTC Properties Inc. (LTC) $1.90

Total IRA Account: $39.3

You can see that the more dividend stocks I accrue, the more money flows into my account. Even if you were to simply reinvest the dividend income, we can see that incrementally the account would go up. Add to that any extra cash that you put aside from your job or side gig and you can slowly get the momentum rolling. It does beg the question: How much do I need to put in a savings account and how much can I trust in the stock market? This is an individual question and definitely one that needs heavy thought.

So, February also gave me credit card points in the form of cash. American Express is my favorite because of that amazing 6% cashback on groceries. This month I earned $85.88 and my bill was just over $1000.00.

I have been more mindful of my spending, however, and the next time I sit down for an extended period to do my bookkeeping, I plan on looking at my spending—particularly my American Express statements.

As 2021 gains speed, it’s important to remember we’re not done with this marathon—it’s not good to get overly confident. I think we have a long ways to go and we need to keep ourselves in reserves so that we can end strong.

Have a great week,

Andrea

Lost Your Motivation? Ask Why.

Ah, well, here we are. Short winter days and a lack of motivation.

How do I get it back?

Maybe a better question is why did it leave?

Last year around this time I was gung ho for eBay. I wanted to grow my store and make it to the big time. Over the year I slowly crept up towards that goal. But, it wasn’t the money—though, don’t get me wrong, that is important—it was the joy.

The freakin’ joy of it. I loved eBay. I loved hunting for free things to sell on eBay. I mean, I was on fire and I couldn’t get enough. It was honestly a bit scary at times. I was obsessed. I went out at night in pajamas with a head lamp in search of late night freebies. I dragged the kids all over town from one free pile to the next (just one more, I promise!). I yearned for higher sales and more inventory. I couldn’t wait to organize it all. To me, it was a magical world that I couldn’t believe existed. Even cleaning shoes was met with excitement. Cleaning shoes! The sultry smell of leather cleaner! I love stuffed animals, or ‘plush’ as they are referred to, particularly photographing them as their eyes looked into mine. Shipping plush was even more fun as I made my kids laugh when I wished the furry creature—aloud—”goodbye and good luck in your new home.”

It was somewhat maniacal.

I miss it.

What happened? Did I just lose interest?

Maybe not. No, it wasn’t just that. It isn’t that. My lack of motivation comes from a number of sources. I had to sit and think about it but before long, the reasons shone just like sun on a mirror. There was more than just burnout to blame. There were Reasons. The Reasons were holding me back.

Before I get too far, I want to add that I watched an interview on YouTube with Rachel Hollis. In that video she describes her personal success. She explains how ‘finding out the ‘why’ behind a problem is so important towards moving past and around a problem.

This message stuck with me. When confronted with my own inertia I idly wondered why I was feeling this way, but it actually took a bigger, unlikelier event to provoke me to follow that advice, which was, ironically, the only piece of concrete advice I knew of.

The Big Event was one that everyone else met with giddy glee: the reopening of school.

School was opening back up. There was a date this time. March 15. This was real.

A cold chill ran through me. It’s time to go back. The words sunk in like a low, dark whisper. I’m an oddball. Everyone wants this but me.

Is the truth darker? I have loved this year. This quiet year of low expectations and sleeping in and my kids at home, sometimes driving me nuts, but full of color, movement, life. Yes, there have been moments of paranoia, fear, and the contemplation of my own and my loved ones’ death. Mortality. I have been lucky up until now. I have not been touched by a real event. I am lucky also, because I’m not prone to anxiety. I am also lucky to live in a small town where I can avoid the problem almost entirely.

But, along with those negatives, there has been a relaxing of rules. Do you remember the animals coming out of hiding in the beginning as towns shut down? Inside, I felt this freedom from the bustle of ordinary life.

How far do I go with this. I hate school. I am an adult with two kids and school, to me, is something to get through. I was a teacher before my kids and I agreed by the nod of my head that we’d be better together at home. I worked part-time at the school down the street up until the Coronavirus. I didn’t miss a minute of that campus the entire year of 2020.

Not one minute.

This is not to say that I didn’t appreciate the human element inside the institutional construction and structured minutiae of the school. There is something appealing and cheery about a school. Yes, I’ll say yes to that. But, there is something forlornly industrial and cold about it as well.

My home is cheerier by far.

When that announcement came I had a decision to make. It wasn’t obvious on the surface, but there was now Choice. I’d been getting unemployment for a number of months because of my work at the school. It was fair. I was now at home teaching my kids and unwilling to leave them high and dry all day. It was and still is the right thing to do in most cases. But, that will be ending and though we opted to continue the remainder of the year virtually—at home—I could technically apply for a job at the school.

The icy claws of a job I hate, but one that has provided me with so much. The sharp teeth of payback. That sad and dismal decision.

The truth is that I should have picked another career path long ago. In 1985, there seemed to be little to choose from. I remember meeting my old roommate. We were both around 30, single, and living in a house with an older woman. I was astonished to learn that my roommate had a horticultural degree. If only I’d known there was such an option! Ah, the life I would have led. Or art. I didn’t think that was a ”marketable skill.” I would have loved to learn art. I almost jumped over to Humanities but I was on the last year of my B.A. in math. Too late. I was fed on ”available jobs.” Math teachers get hired. End of sentence. Period.

In the end I became an elementary school teacher. I like kids. Probably more accurately, I relate to their excitement over almost everything. But, as a teacher you are required to hold down the fort—be the iron fist in the velvet glove. It wasn’t me.

Guilt.

There is an element of guilt to my lack of motivation. I feel conflicted and torn between the eccentric lifestyle that suits me and the conventional career that has provided for me. Had I not been a teacher, I would never have been able to buy my home.

So, when do you let go of fear and guilt?

Logically, the answer could be when you are able to do that financially. At the same time, how do your really know where you could be financially without taking the risk?

In the end, I realized that my answer was with me and my family. It was different in 1985—I needed to prepare myself for the world. But, now my family created a push and shove. My husband, wasn’t too keen on this ”eBay” stuff. My accumulation of sales items was starting to ‘show’ around the house. My motivation was dropping as he came home and looked around the house. It got worse at one point, when he wanted to actually get rid of my things. My immediate response was dismal. I felt attacked and even worse, not encouraged. He did like the sales though and once in a while he asked me to sell things for him. My own optimism was catching. He could see me jump out of bed in the morning to check Facebook Marketplace and eBay. I told him I was high on life.

He heard me. But, it took a while for him to come around. My mood dipped during those points and that conflict between conventional and unconventional career reared up and threatened to swallow me. I wondered if I should get rid of everything and go back to teaching. I started to winnow down my own belongings like an anorexic loses weight. It felt like my joy was falling off like dead leaves.

Amazingly, the opening of the school ended up being the key, the answer, to my dilemma. My kids were staying home the rest of the year because we had chosen ‘distance learning’ when the school district had requested a choice on this back in November. As I honed in to ‘why’ of my dilemma, I drew a mental picture of how my options would look if I did go back to work. I even asked my 11-year-old daughter and she said, surprised, ”you won’t be home?” Immediately she said she wanted me at home.

Unlike me, she didn’t equivocate. It was such a relief.

It’s where I belong. It’s where I can contribute the most. It’s where I’m happy.

My motivation has slowly been coming back. I see my reasoning clearly again: working from home allows me the freedom I need to do the unpaid work that is most important. I spent most of February slowly cleaning and organizing—I understand my husband’s perspective. Really, who wants to come home to chaos? He encourages me in his own quiet way. But, in all honesty, I don’t need to please everyone on every level. It’s time for me to follow this path and see where it leads.

There’s an inkling, a hunch, that I may know what I’m doing after all.

Have a great week,

Andrea

Passive Income Report January 2021

Welcome 2021!

January went swoosh. I mean, wow. The time just flies by.

I’ve got my monthly passive income report all set to look through with virtual paperclips and cliff notes. This year I hope to get all 12 months posted—and I’d like to take a look at a yearly report for 2020 in the near future.

But let’s get away from my lofty goals and get into it.

Dividends

Dividends are my favorite. Stocks in general are such a boon to savers—how else can you increase your savings by so much? While the stock market is rambunctious at times, if you hold on for the ride, you’re sure to be rewarded. Dividend stocks are considered less risky by experts because historically dividends are an option that strong companies select as a way to pay their shareholders. Research has shown that dividend stocks tend to remain more stable over the long run. Payout and stability! This month I made a total of $105.78 from dividends. This amount includes stocks from both my regular stock account and my Roth IRA. Here’s how January stacked up:

Global X SuperDividend US ETF (DIV) 6 shares .60

STAG Industrial Inc. (STAG) 10 Shares $1.20

Realty Income (O) 40 Shares $9.38

Preferred Apartment Real Estate Investment Trust Company (APTS) 100 Shares $17.50

LTC Properties Inc. (LTC) 20 Shares $3.80

General Mills (GIS) 10 Shares $5.10

Invesco S&P 500 High Dividend Low Volatility ETF(SPHD) 50 Shares $7.47

B & G Foods (BGS)70 Shares $33.25

Verizon (VZ) 15 Shares $6.28

AT&T (T) 60 shares $31.20

American Express Card

After having continual difficulty trying to access my Bank of America Visa card account, I really appreciate my American Express Card. Everything about it works seamlessly—it’s like butter, as they say. Plus, it gives me a heck of a lot of cashback bonuses. This month I received $45.23 in cash back. Remember, the American Express Card pays me a huge 6% back on grocery purchases—this is by far my largest expenditure and so, for me, this card really helps me save cash. You may be wondering what my credit card balance was. I just paid the bill and it was a little over $1100. It seems a little more than I’d like to pay so I will be doing a little reining in when it comes to my spending. Our income is seasonal and the winter time is by far the worst time for us. Not only do we make less money but we also spend more when we pay off our taxes, home and car insurance, and property taxes.

Bank Interest

This month I earned an abysmal .63 in interest. It’s not entirely my fault—but, I could have stuck to my guns and gotten a better interest payment if I’d simply followed my banks protocol of one deposit and 15 transactions. The thing is, that this is the time of year where I need to reconnect with my saved cash in order to pay off taxes, property taxes, and insurance. Once that is accomplished, my focus for the remainder of the year is saving for next years taxes and insurance and gaining interest along the way. It’s not a total loss.

Besides passive earnings, this month brought some good news and some bad news. The good news is that I was able to purchase 5 more shares of VZ stock at a relatively low price of $54.28 per share. Verizon is a solid company with good recommendations from a number of sources including the Motley Fool. I own a bit of VZ now, but as I was looking over my portfolio, I noticed it was in the red. I quickly looked it up and found that VZ has dropped a bit, but that they have big plans and a definite ‘buy’ from reasonable sources. Verizon also has a good dividend, 4.62% and that’s good enough for me.

The bad news is that I may be shopping around for a new favorite high-interest account. Tab Bank, my trusty savings friend continues to lower their interest rate. I’ve just been informed that it is now lowering the interest rate to 1.5%. Looks like I’ll be heading out of that establishment and onto another.

In similiar news—-my main brick and mortar bank pulled an oddball ”fast one” on me. After depositing a check into the ATM, I found out that my deposit was not immediately placed into my account. I received a phone call from the bank manager and he told me that it was ‘bank policy’ to place a hold on a check that was larger than my normal deposit. Hmmm. Interesting. Personally, I did not like that the management has the ability to randomly make a spot check on my account. Although, I do understand that given the current Covid circumstances, banks are probably having to be more vigilant.

Still, the combination of banks—one lowering their interest rate and the other placing a hold on my check makes me wonder if it isn’t us—the consumers—who need to be more vigilant.

Have a great week,

Andrea

Things I Learned From Selling On eBay and Facebook Marketplace That You Can Apply to Almost Anything.

I’ve been happily selling on eBay for over a year now. Of course, the grass is always greener, so recently I decided to follow a friends suggestion (more like constant prompting) and try my hand on Facebook Marketplace. Within the blink of an eye I sold two things that we had laying around the house—a sled and a small side table—each for $15.

I was, well, sold.

Suddenly, the sun seemed a bit brighter and I was seeing small ‘saleables’ everywhere. Despite my eagerness, however, I held myself a bit in check because I’d learned from eBay that it’s pretty easy to get crazy excited and then find yourself in a mad mess. Like, how do you get rid of four bulky printers that you picked up for free? But, before I go off on a tangent, let me just start…

No. 1

No. 1

Start Small. By this, I mean literally and figuratively. I’ve learned the hard way that starting big is great if you’re really energetic, extremely gung-ho, or simply have a lot of time on your hands, but for most people the best thing to do is start small and get those first few attempts really, really, right.

I began with Facebook Marketplace by selling a small side table that I had owned and used for a number of years. It was lightweight and easy to clean and I knew all of its flaws since I’d owned it for so long. I scrubbed it down and let it dry in the sun. Then I moved it around to find the best place to take a photo. It turned out that my driveway, in front of my garage door, was the best spot. My daughter and I (she’s our tech-savvy 11-year-old) decided to try posting the entire ad just using my cellphone—this was also something new. My computer has gotten a bit slow and cranky in the past year and I wanted to streamline the process—I use the phone for photographs, so why not just attempt the whole process that way?

By focusing on one easy-to-move table I was able to concentrate on taking the photos and uploading a decent ad. You can see that if I were lining myself up with a lot of heavy items that took up space and required constant moving it could get really confusing—or even worse, I could have got into some bad habits and made a lot of mistakes. Think if I had moved a large desk to the backyard only to find out that the water heater does not make the best backdrop? If you start small you’ll avoid a lot of beginner errors that may sour you to the whole process. Plus you’ll save your back.

For the same reason, I also suggest—whether you’re selling on eBay or any other platform–to start with something physically manageable, easy to move, and/or something easy to ship if you’re mailing it out. If you get the processes down pat in the beginning, you’ll handle larger, more challenging items in stride.

A little over a month ago I sold a Ronco Rotisserie oven on eBay. This thing was massive. The shipping alone was close to $50 and it took me over an hour to wrap the parts and box it up so that nothing broke along the way. I had to drive the package to the next town over for shipping which took another half hour each way. Luckily the sale was worth it, but if all of that had occurred when I first started selling I probably would have been a quivering mess.

But the story gets even crazier because a week or so later, the buyer emailed me to let me know the oven was missing an important part. Oh, no! I had no idea because this had not been mine to begin with. Still, I’d been selling a while and was determined to solve the problem. I quickly looked on eBay for the part and noted the price and gave my buyer a refund for more than double that. I wrote an apology to them, letting them know that I did see that they could purchase the part on eBay and that I was giving them a refund so they could adequately pay for a new part and an additional amount for the inconvenience. I still made a small profit and in the end, the buyer got a heck of a deal. Best of all, they wrote very nice feedback, thanking me for my generous resolution. I hope they’re eating rotisserie as we speak!

If that had happened to me in the beginning I know I would have probably given up selling with the assumption that eBay was one big giant racket. I wouldn’t have had the benefit of success behind me and I would have concluded that other sellers had ”some special skill” that I didn’t.

So, trust me—you’ve got all the skills you need, just take one step at a time and start small.

No. 2

Have a Plan. I began selling my own things on Facebook Marketplace so it wasn’t hard for me to breeze past the ”planning portion” of the endeavor. Still, in the back of my mind, I wanted to sell ”other stuff.” I spent a couple of weeks mulling it over—I was so happy selling on eBay that I wanted to expand. My dad used to clean and sell used appliances. Those memories stuck with me and I knew I wanted to sell furniture. I decided to focus on small furniture items that I could carry in the trunk of my Honda Accord. I liked the idea of tables with drawers or bookshelves—things that are small but versatile. Though I wanted to go full swing and maybe redo the furniture by sanding it and painting it, I decided that it would be better to start simply by selling items as-is and use that as a selling point—there are a lot of people who want to paint something themselves and give it their own special touch. Not to mention, that I found it extremely difficult to decide on a color that would appeal to the greatest number of people!

Without realizing it, I was forming a plan. Since I was going to focus on Curb Alert finds, I wasn’t running amok by spending my own money and I’d decided that if I couldn’t sell an item, I would be able to put it out for free—or in the worst case scenario, break it down and put it in the trash.

Additionally, since I was dealing in exclusively small furniture, it would be easy to store things in my garage or on the side of my house for a month or so—long enough to try to sell it or move it along if it doesn’t find a new owner.

I’d run the idea through my mind and there was now a memorable well-worn trail there. It was basically the beginning of a map of the job territory. I had also learned from selling on eBay that, while it is good to be highly optimistic about your new business, it’s also a fact that not all things sell and some things sit around for a while before a buyer comes along. I certainly didn’t want to become known as the neighborhood junk lady.

Your plan needs to be complete. You need to know how your going to get items, how you’re going to photograph, list, store, sell, and keep track of your income for tax purposes. Moreover, it’s important to have a plan set in place for each item before it gets put into the trunk of your car. What are you going to do if it doesn’t sell and how long are you going to give it the benefit of the doubt if you don’t get any bites? Some items are different than others. Picking up a refrigerator is going to be more of a commitment than grabbing a bunch of books. You’ll have to take this into account and spend a contemplative moment before you impulsively load up.

Planning ahead and creating a process for handling each step streamlines your business. You won’t pick up everything to sell and you won’t waste time waffling about whether or not you ”should try that new thing.” You’ll find yourself making less mistakes, having more time, and enjoying yourself more.

No. 3

Strategize. It’s one thing to plan, it’s another to plan your planning—I call that strategizing.

Strategizing your business is creating a plan or process for scaling up. It is a plan for how you want to proceed once you reach your goals. You may have heard of the term metacognition which is defined as the awareness and understanding of one’s own thought processes. Strategizing your business is similar. It involves a knowledge of your current business structure, your goals, and a step-by-step process for creating new goals as you achieve the old ones.

If you have a good sense of your business as it is now, you’ll be able to decide how, and if, you will expand.

Selling on Facebook Marketplace gave me a really good sense of how I wanted to move forward. In truth, because there were so many boundaries on what I sold (size, cost, weight, etc.) I quickly fell into a very specific niche. Part of me wanted to spread into refinishing furniture, but overall, I realized that this is not my skill set, nor does it fit in with my more casual and less detail-oriented personality. I was quickly able to let that notion go. I liked telling people in the description of each item what I think could be done with a piece. Doing the work myself would have put on the pressure and the more I sold, the more I realized how nervous I would be if someone was coming to pick up something I had determined was ‘finished.’ I know I would have seen every flaw rather than felt a pride in my work.

Once I determined the ”physical” structure or foundation of my business, I realized how much fun I was having. To put it lightly, I was obsessed. I realized that I wanted to keep this up, to keep searching for ”finds” and to include this in my reselling business plan that had just been eBay up until a month ago.

But, that’s not all.

I realized that I was not losing interest in reselling and I could see from how quickly things sold that were definite possibilities out there.

This gave me pause.

I decided to look into other selling venues and as my earnings increased, I started to tentatively make financial goals. As I worked away, I could begin to predict what might happen if I sold on other outlets, such as Poshmark and Mercari, or increased my inventory.

Finally, I began to see that I needed a daily structure—I couldn’t just think about selling all day. I have two kids, a husband and 3 dogs. I wanted to be able to drop things for a few hours a day and walk the dogs, catch up on other tasks, play with my kids, or even just read a book for a while. This all takes strategizing.

The thought finally occurred to me: it’s probably a good idea to take a day off to plan. Most of us resist taking time off, especially to (pffft, what?) plan. The idea here though is that you strategize. You’re thinking ahead—what do you want from your business? What are your goals and what steps do you need to take to reach the next goal? I think it’s worth it to think about how much you’d like to earn weekly, monthly, and yearly. On the other hand, if you’re just in it for a little extra income and for the fun of it, you may find that a more relaxed attitude is a better approach.

In the beginning, I was simply selling one item. But, as I leveled up to more items, I went so slowly that I didn’t really think beyond the excitement of finding out if something would sell. As I progressed, I reached little milestones—a dollar amount, for example, that was a bit of a surprise. At that point I had to think am I moving into this? Is this a possibility?

Perhaps most importantly, when you do take that day to strategize, think about what you need to do or create to make this fit in with the rest of your life. Don’t leave yourself out of it—make your breaks and enjoyment an integral part of your life plan.

No. 4

Keep Track of Your Numbers. This one is so easy to neglect in the beginning. You think that a few stamps, new ink for the printer, or the new cellphone you got to take photos with are unimportant. You’re caught up in the excitement of the moment and you just don’t keep track. Maybe you think to yourself, ”I’ll deal with it later.”

When later comes along you don’t remember the details.

Maybe you see that those tools you purchased, the paper you needed, everything you bought actually adds up. And, that’s how money works. it really does add up one penny at a time.

One of the worst things that can happen as you become happily successful is you get audited by the IRS.

My husband and I were audited when he started his commercial fishing business. He worked for about two years and I struggled to learn his bookkeeping. He didn’t have the time to sit down and explain each part or receipt to me and often I wasn’t quite sure how to prepare our taxes.

We did our taxes yearly and then one day, that awful letter came in the mail. It was such a blow. Running your own business is exciting, exhausting—and costly. You need to get all of the tax breaks that you can in order to survive. If you are not keeping accurate records you will have to recreate everything for the IRS. I had to do this for two and a half years of our business and it took weeks to get everything together into a cohesive document. Tension i our home was through the roof and of course, as the bookkeeper I felt personally responsible. I had two young kids in tow and not enough mental bandwidth—or time—to think through it all.

In the end, we somehow managed. Our taxes were accurate and we were not fined excessively. Later I was able to laugh at the whole ordeal—I started to tell people it was not big deal, but when the IRS is done with you, you’ve essentially gone through a Business 101 class.

Now I keep everything in binders. I’d like to get comfortable with spreadsheets and bookkeeping software, but I’m not there yet. I like the tactile feel of paper and I can picture handing my binders off to the IRS so they can make copies. One thing I really try not to do is put things off or assume I’ll remember something. I keep a notebook with notes for each check I write. I keep all receipts—I print them up when I buy online. Most importantly, I try to question each expenditure. Did I use have to drive to get something? Did I purchase a cleaner or tool that I am using for my business? These are all things that are deductible. Running a business can be quite costly—and it does not come with the security that a regular job does. Trying to earn an income without taking deductions is foolhardy at best.

Not all small businesses survive: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS),approximately 20% of new businesses fail during the first two years of being open, 45% during the first five years, and 65% during the first 10 years.

Keeping track of your finances is the surest way to succeed.

No. 5

Take Risks. Ahhh…okay, it’s kinda cliche. But, really, where would we be without taking chances? Taking chances is what life is all about—without a forward momentum we cannot succeed.

I look back on my first eBay item: The Aquasana Water Filter. I remember how it sat on the high shelf of my desk and the day it sold. I was so excited. I can practically feel the dry plastic shrink wrap and the panic of ”now what do I do.”

But, that day—the day I picked up the filter and decided to take a chance and sell was important for me. It was happening at the end of a long depressing winter—one in which we were very low in funds and though we are not poor by any means, it frankly felt like we were. I didn’t like that feeling. I didn’t like having no control. Moreover, I didn’t believe that this was who I was–someone who traipsed along in life and allowed myself to feel lost. My image of myself was much stronger, much smarter, but that year had been a repeat of all the years before, only worse.

The first risk—a wispy thought in my head, ”just try it” was what led me out of that weak hole and into a whole world of excitement.

It took a few sales and lots of failures for me to learn the ropes, but by following the 5 steps outlined above, I was able to ratchet up slowly while taking challenges in stride. I know one thing though—without taking the chance, I’d be nowhere.

On that scary thought,

Have a Great Week!

Andrea

Passive Income Report November

I love my passive income, so each month it is a joy to add up the incremental ways I’m gaining on my finances just by the choices I’ve made.

So, without further ado, let me begin.

American Express

If you’ve been reading, you know that American Express is my favorite credit card. Each month I try to stay within my means, but no matter what, American Express surprises me with the rewards I accrue. The phenomenal 6% back on groceries is where this card really pays off for me. During November, I made a total of $115.58 in rewards.

TAB Bank

I found out about the TAB bank Kasasa checking account while reading Kiplinger’s Magazine last year. I was initially hesitant to use an online bank, but at the time, they were offering an astounding 4% interest rate on your account of up to $20,000.00. I literally could not believe it was true.

Tentatively, I opened an account and slowly I started depositing money into my account. The bank account has a few requirements, such as a monthly deposit and 15 debit card transactions. I was so enamored of my American Express at the time that I couldn’t see the utility of another account—despite the interest rate. But, logically, I knew that I had to earn money on my savings as well as my spending. The money in this savings account has a job to begin with—this is money that I put away all year so that I can pay our property taxes and insurance, etc., at the end of the year.

In the beginning of this year, Tab Bank had a series of interest rate reductions. They now offer a much lower 2% rate, which is still nothing to scoff at, however, I have considered moving my money again if a higher interest rate finds me. For now, I’m pretty happy with TAB. This month I received $31.29 in interest.

Dividends

This month I received a total of $96.94 from dividends.

By stock, I received:

$6.28 from Verizon

$31.20 From AT&T

$4.30 From American Express

.30 From DIV ETF

$1.78 from Enterprise Products

$24.00 from Grand Plains Partners

$9.36 from Realty Income

$5.31 from Diversified Healthcare Trust

$4.85 from Unilever

$1.90 from LTC Properties Inc.

$7.66 from SPHD

November was not an epic month to buy stock because the prices were so high, but I did take a chance and purchased 15 shares of Pfizer when the news of a viable vaccine came out. I also bought 10 shares of Kohls, just on a hunch that Kohls may stick around—and continue paying out the amazing 7.3% dividend that I was able to capture.

Well, let’s tally before I go. So, all told I made a solid $243.81. I’m definitely excited by this and I hope that I can take that cash and continue to keep it growing.

Have a great week!

Andrea

Selling on eBay — The Best Gig in Town

It started with a YouTube video and a filter.

A little over a year ago, I took a chance and sold a filter on eBay. Little did I know it would become a passion, a source of income, and a life-altering endeavor.

I remember it vividly—it was the beginning of summer. My kids were home and the little town I live in was eerily quiet. A normal June day is socked in by fog, but on this day it was uncharacteristically warm and sunny. We had nothing to do, nowhere to be—time had finally slowed down and we were making the most of it by doing a lot of lounging.

That day, I remember seeing an add on Craigslist for a ”whole house” free pile. The occupants of the house were moving and they had pulled everything out to the yard. I loaded the kids into the car and we eagerly drove over.

My son immediately grabbed a couple of boxes of brand new nails. A filter, fully wrapped and unused, caught my eye. I’d just seen that video referencing ”parts of items.” I had no idea what the filter was used for. I grabbed it, feeling a bit guilty—I knew I would not use it, but I also knew that it would more than likely end up in the trash.

Since then, I’ve continued to grow and learn. I’ve tried to enjoy the process while pushing myself to sell more. My store is small but each month I try to commit just a bit more time to it.

I’ve really learned that this is something that goes full circle for me. I try to pick items that will likely end up in the landfill. Recycling is a huge motivating factor. Saving the money I earn through eBay is the other side of that coin—that money goes towards purchasing stock or at the very least my high-interest checking account.

I encourage everyone to try eBay—even if it is just to get rid of a few items that are weighing you down. Sending an object on to someone who really appreciates it is more than just financially rewarding!

if you’d like to visit my store, check it out here.

Have a Great Weekend,

Andrea

August Passive Income Report

There’s nothing like passive income—after all who doesn’t want to make money while they sleep?

In 2018 I began this journey intent on making my money work for me. Since then, I’ve learned it is well worth the effort to set up a system of spending that gives back in the most advantageous way to you. Some like to accrue travel points on their credit card but I’m all about cash. Each month I’d like to continue making more money passively and show you the small ways that you can also increase your income—it might seem like pennies at a time—but those pennies add up.

The term ‘passive income’ has a few slightly different definitions, but in my case, I am simply sticking to that income which comes from credit card cashback, interest, and dividends from stock. This is money that ”just comes to me” by way of how I’ve set up my spending and saving. Don’t get confused, however—this is not money that fell out of the sky—this money came after thorough research and some risk-taking.

DIVIDENDS

During the month of August, I received $89.69 in dividends. Below, along with each stock, I have the amount of dividend income I made in August, how many shares I own, and the total amount of money I have invested in the stock. I’ve had a stock account for many years, but it was not ”doing anything” because I was playing it safe by keeping all my money in the bank. Then I took the initiative to remove my savings from a CD in 2018 and put that money into the stock market. To say I was afraid is an understatement. But, no matter, the decision paid off. Just to give you an idea—I made somewhere around $20.00 per year with $20,000.00 invested in my CD. Here is what I made in one month with the stocks I purchased for a total investment of approximately $12,000.00.

Stock August Dividend Total Shares Money Invested

ATT (T) $31.20 60 shares $1800.00

Verizon(VZ) $6.15 10 shares $590.00

Green Plains Partners LP (GPP) $24.00 200 shares $1000.00

American Express (AXP) $4.30 10 shares $980.00

Realty Income (O) $9.34 40 shares $2300.00

Diversified Healthcare Trust (DHC) $5.31 531 shares $3200.00

LTC Properties Trust (LTC) $1.90 10 shares $470.00

Invesco Exchange S&P 500 (SPHD) $7.49 50 shares $1700.00

Most of these stocks are paid quarterly, but the REIT’s: ‘O’ stock, LTC, and SPHD are paid out monthly.

Bank Interest

After moving my money out of that miserable CD at my local brick-and-mortar bank, I started to notice banks with very high-interest rates. Definitely, you can get a higher percentage rate inside a good bank account than a CD. It is a huge misconception that a CD is the way to go. It’s like we are practically gaslighted into believing a bank account cannot pay us more—this is despite the obvious evidence to the contrary. Often, a high-interest bank account comes with some hoops to jump through, but I think it is worth the effort. I keep some cash in my neighborhood bank, but then I transfer money to my online bank where I get 2% interest. This month I received $33.37 in interest. I keep as much as I can in that bank until I need it for big expenditures like property taxes at the end of the year.

Credit Card Cashback

In my last post, I talked about my favorite credit card: The American Express Blue Card. The American Express Blue Card gives the following:

*6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases.
*6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
*3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (e.g., taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more)
*1% Cash Back on other purchases
Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.

AmEx has additional benefits and perks—most notable being the $5.00 ”Small Shop” credit for spending $10.00 or more at approved small businesses (I had 4 of these for a total of $20.00 at the time of my bill. So with those credits and the regular cashback credits, my August total was $104.83. I should note, that this amount fell under half of July and half of August because my billing cycle ends mid-month. Also, the small shop credit benefit ended mid-Septemer.

Adding all three up, I earned a total of $227.89 in the month of August. Not bad, but I’ll keep tracking my expenses and looking for ways to not only increase my passive income—but also find ways to invest it in the future.

Have a Great Week!

Andrea

American Express: The BEST Credit Card

If you know me well, you know how much I love my American Express “Blue Cash Preferred” Credit Card. But, it just keeps getting better—through mid-September, American Express allows cardholders to sign up for ”small shop” credits for a maximum of $50.00 in credits. I didn’t really know how these would actually work until I looked at my account—and I’ve received four credits already.

It’s simple—sign up and receive $5.00 each time you shop at a designated ”small shop.” Now, before I get too excited, let me say I did have difficulty finding out exactly what stores or businesses were considered small in my area. In fact, I ended up losing time and so, because it was free I went ahead and signed up and used my card as I regularly do—which is probably a good approach, because you definitely don’t want to shop just to get the $5.00 credit—that would be missing the point.

I was pretty excited to see four credits equaling a total of $20.00 less than a month. Each credit was immediately applied to my card. Two of the credits came after visiting my dentist, and two were given after shopping at my local grocery store.

I was excited, but not completely surprised.

American Express is the best, after all.

The funny thing is that I don’t often see AmEx listed as a favorite when I research credit cards online. But, I’m here to tell you it is. In fact, you may consider yourself attached to cash, your debit card, or another credit card, but after I show you how great American Express is, you may be persuaded to apply.

AmEx Blue Cash Preferred has a $95.00 yearly charge, but it’s worth every penny. When I signed on that charge was waived for the first year and I think I even received a $200.00 credit if I spent $1000.00 in 90 days. ( Currently AmEx is offering $250.00 back if you spend $1,000.00 within three months). This was not hard—I simply used the card for everything from fuel to groceries and everything in between. What sold me in the beginning? Let me count the ways:

*6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases.
*6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
*3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (e.g., taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more)
*1% Cash Back on other purchases
Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.

Okay, so let’s add it up. The 6% back on $6,000.00 is $360.00. So, just the grocery credit alone more than covers the yearly $95.00 fee.

Then, there’s the 3% back on fuel. I don’t drive much, so I’d say that I only make $3.00 to $5.00 per month using the card, but over a year that adds up to probably at least $60.00 and of course, if I travel, that leans closer to $100.00 or more per year.

Finally, I make 1% on everything else I purchase.

As of this writing I have earned $293.58 in reward money. I truly believe that your money should be making money and this is one way that you can collect funds that you can later invest.

American Express has a lot of other features such as their ‘Lowest Hotel Rate Guarantee’ and a free subscription to Shoprunner which gives you free 2-day shipping and returns to a host of online stores such as Peets Coffee. Using AmEx will provide you with additional protections including theft protection, car rental loss and damage insurance and return protection. They offer perks such as their current 10% back on Starbucks up to $5.00 incentive and the more useful, $10 back on $40 at Advance Auto Part.

One thing that I cannot neglect to comment on is the importance of using a credit card rather than a bank card. A bank card uses money that is available in your bank while a credit card is paid later—an advantage to you in the event that a purchase did not go as planned or, even worse, if your card is stolen. If you lose a credit card it is much easier to negotiate with a credit card company—before you pay your bill— than it is with your bank.

As for cash—stuff it under your mattress. Once you spend cash you have no backup, no real record, and definitely your money is not making money. But be warned, credit card companies make it very enticing to spend—so, use your card with a cash mindset to keep your financial choices working for you.

AmEx does have a really cool referral program: if you apply using the link below, I can get $100.00 in cash credit if you are approved, so I’ve included a referral link below.

Thanks, and have a great week!

Andrea

Apply for an American Express Card with this link. We can both get rewarded if you’re approved!

http://refer.amex.us/ANDREPOt0T?xl=cp15

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