did I meet my 2008 financial goals?

seventh sense


In November 2007, I signed up to participate in the first Carnival of Financial Goals.
My goal was a resolution to average $1000 per month in alternative income in 2008.  I updated my financial goals in July 2008, too.   So how did I do?

I’ll throw in a few caveats here. I do have a few “alternative income” streams like dividends and capital gains that I didn’t include in this analysis.  I make a few bucks here and there through other sources that are too small and irregular to mention.  I also did not figure out income on an accrual basis, but instead relied on cash basis accounting.  If you aren’t familiar with that, it works this way:  imagine you receive $600 in May for a 6-month advertising campaign.  If you use accrual basis, that means you make $100 per month for six months; but a cash basis says you made $600 in May.  So this is an inherently inaccurate look at my alternative income.

I did not meet my goal of making $1000 per month during 2008. However, because of my cash basis approach I did exceed $1000 twice, and the average steadily increased over the course of the year.  If I did factor in dividends and other capital gains I would have been close to $1000 for most of the second half of 2008.  Regardless of my fuzzy accounting, I believe that my goal – while not met – is not even close to unattainable, and I expect to exceed it easily in 2009.

Since I’m between contracts in my “main” job right now, the level of alternative income is more important to me now than it was when I set the goal. I am experimenting with QuickBooks (again) to better manage my income now that it’s not coming from a single source.  Understanding the exact amount of income you are receiving is a key component of personal finance – the fact that I don’t have that number in front of me indicates to me that I’m doing something wrong.

Good news, bad news. I think I did all right in comparison to my goal, although I didn’t meet it according to the standard I set.  I’ll set a goal for 2009 – I’ll average $5000 per month in “non-salary” income.  That’s an ambitious goal, but one I need to meet if I plan to stay self-employed; and in all honesty, I need to make more than that if I stay self-employed.  I’ll probably try to make more independent consulting work part of my income, rather than the contract consulting I’ve relied upon.  But my confession is this:  I am both terrified and excited that 2009 might be the first year where my non-salary income exceeds my salary income.  I might just break free of my salary – it’s happening now and it’s nerve-wracking, but it’s exciting, too.

photo credit: woodleywonderworks

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14 comments

  • Good luck, I think you can meet that goal. Actually I am surprised you didn't meet your 2008 goal. Were you averaging that much in the last few months of 2008?
    Also, do you have anything else cooking besides this blog to get to that $5k mark? If so, I'm dieing to hear about it.

    • @PFO: Thanks – and I didn't meet my 2008 goal for a number of reasons, which were at least helpful to learn from. I didn't start working with affiliates until late in the year, for example, and I spent a lot of time tinkering with advertising that didn't work at all (plastering ads all over the site scares people off and encourages “ad blindness”). I spent time building a credit card site, which I realize now is pointless – nobody's coming to this blog and thinking “hey, I need to find a great rewards card.”

      My plan is to have that $5000 come from 4 areas:
      1. Freelance (rather than contract) consulting
      2. Freelance writing
      3. This blog and my other two blogs (which have been up for a while but I haven't promoted here, yet)
      4. Coaching – I intend to start offering limited coaching services sometime this year.

      Between those 4 I hope to generate $5000. Obviously #1 and #4 have more potential but they are less “passive” than #3. #2 is a bit of a non-starter recently but I have considered doing more corporate blog writing and freelance paid blogging and writing. The money's not that great for that, though, and it's time consuming.

      We'll see! 2009 is starting out exceptionally slow in almost ALL areas, unfortunately, but that's just the difficulty we're all having with this gruesome economy!

  • I think the cash accounting is a reasonable method for blogs. Even if you did spread out the “one time payments” over the proper time period – things like Adsense etc vary so much.

    I do cash accounting and look at 3 (or more) month segments to look for trends.

  • I'm kind of in the same boat.
    My contract ends this April so I need to get my 'alternative income' way up.
    Sadly, it's no where near where I want it to be.
    Good luck!

  • I would spend on frivolous things. I was up late one night-also avoiding the phone during the day-I saw an info mercial for a FINANCIAL FREEDOM workshop(garbage I thought). I heard a man say that he takes his earnings from his job and puts aside a certain amount for his bills, a certain amount for saving and then he PAYS HIMSELF-he puts aside an allowance for him and his family to use for the fun stuff. I tried it and yes, it works! I take the amount for my frivolous stuff and at the end of the month-i look at how much it is and decide if i want it to go back into the kitty or if i want to spend it. I was able to save up $$$ and when we went on a vacation, i had the most money because of how i had set aside PLAY MONEY. The car issue is always a hot topic. My dad had purchased a brand new truck with 45 miles on it from the dealer-in the first month we had it, it was in the shop 8 times! It was a lemon. There is a dealership here called CarMax and the cars are guranteed. You can do a car fax history report-this tells you the history of the car, if it has been in any accidents etc. I have purchased cars from the newspaper and have had pretty good luck there-again buyer beware. The best thing we did was buy a 99 mini van from a dealer 5 years ago. It was and still is the best driving vehicle. I hope this helps you.

  • Ashley @ Wide Open Wallet

    Good Luck! I'm excited for you. Your goals are WAY beyond what I could imagine for myself right now. My goal is to make $5,000 in 2009. lol. Not per month, for the whole year. That said, it would still be a 500% increase over what I made this year.

  • @PFO: Thanks – and I didn't meet my 2008 goal for a number of reasons, which were at least helpful to learn from. I didn't start working with affiliates until late in the year, for example, and I spent a lot of time tinkering with advertising that didn't work at all (plastering ads all over the site scares people off and encourages “ad blindness”). I spent time building a credit card site, which I realize now is pointless – nobody's coming to this blog and thinking “hey, I need to find a great rewards card.”

    My plan is to have that $5000 come from 4 areas:
    1. Freelance (rather than contract) consulting
    2. Freelance writing
    3. This blog and my other two blogs (which have been up for a while but I haven't promoted here, yet)
    4. Coaching – I intend to start offering limited coaching services sometime this year.

    Between those 4 I hope to generate $5000. Obviously #1 and #4 have more potential but they are less “passive” than #3. #2 is a bit of a non-starter recently but I have considered doing more corporate blog writing and freelance paid blogging and writing. The money's not that great for that, though, and it's time consuming.

    We'll see! 2009 is starting out exceptionally slow in almost ALL areas, unfortunately, but that's just the difficulty we're all having with this gruesome economy!

  • Ashley @ Wide Open Wallet

    Good Luck! I'm excited for you. Your goals are WAY beyond what I could imagine for myself right now. My goal is to make $5,000 in 2009. lol. Not per month, for the whole year. That said, it would still be a 500% increase over what I made this year.

  • I'm finding that many companies who would normally hire a fulltime person to do project work in writing are now hiring freelancers. You are smart and capable enough to do this kind of work, and my impression is that you have plenty of contacts. $5K a month is a lot in this context, and I've only exceeded that twice in the last 15 years. But I've only done it part time. You need to reach out into your network to have this kind of success, but it is certainly possible.

    Don't forget that you never blow off anyone. I made contacts years ago in the hope of getting freelance, and when they didn't pan out, I stayed in touch. Today, a couple of them have paid off quite well.

  • I'm finding that many companies who would normally hire a fulltime person to do project work in writing are now hiring freelancers. You are smart and capable enough to do this kind of work, and my impression is that you have plenty of contacts. $5K a month is a lot in this context, and I've only exceeded that twice in the last 15 years. But I've only done it part time. You need to reach out into your network to have this kind of success, but it is certainly possible.

    Don't forget that you never blow off anyone. I made contacts years ago in the hope of getting freelance, and when they didn't pan out, I stayed in touch. Today, a couple of them have paid off quite well.

  • I'm finding that many companies who would normally hire a fulltime person to do project work in writing are now hiring freelancers. You are smart and capable enough to do this kind of work, and my impression is that you have plenty of contacts. $5K a month is a lot in this context, and I've only exceeded that twice in the last 15 years. But I've only done it part time. You need to reach out into your network to have this kind of success, but it is certainly possible.

    Don't forget that you never blow off anyone. I made contacts years ago in the hope of getting freelance, and when they didn't pan out, I stayed in touch. Today, a couple of them have paid off quite well.

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