Money VS Passion: TRJ’s Quarter-Year Update

This post is my first update on my journey so far. If you have been following the journey, or just intrigued to know what I have been up to those past 5 months, then I invite you to read on.

First of all, this is not exactly a “quarter-year,” but I only thought of this post about two weeks ago or so, and I was either going to do it now and be a little behind on the “quarter” part, or wait for it to be like half a year update or something. But I eventually decided to just do it now.

I felt like I should have a post where I document what has been going well for me so far on this journey and what needs improvement. So that I can have an overview of where I am exactly.

I started this journey in December 2018, so this is currently my 5th month on the journey.

I have had some downs and a whole good deal of ups, and I’m working my way through this as hard and as fast as I can.

Downs

I’ll start with the downs first, so I can end this on a positive note.

1. No day job

So far, I haven’t managed to find any day jobs that would allow me to do what I love doing, which is writing.

I enjoy writing, whether it’s blogging here or writing fiction, and living to do just this was my ultimate dream. But, you know, it would have been nice if I managed to get paid for that as well. However, no luck so far in that area.

2. No more Redbubble

Another bad news is that my online store on Redbubble, which was actually bringing in some profit, got suspended for no reason about 2 months ago.

I figured it out by chance, when I was checking for broken links on my website here and found that my store’s link was one of them. I mean imagine finding out like that; not a very pleasant surprise.

I contacted them a dozen times, for about 3 weeks, and I received no answer. Until I eventually tweeted them and someone replied to me a week later.

They said my account seems to have had some kind of a “suspicious activity” that violated their rules or so and which has resulted in suspending it.

Now I have not logged into my account nor uploaded any new designs for over 3 months prior to this suspension. So, there is no way in hell I had anything to do with this activity.

When I tried to have a better explanation as to what kind of activity exactly that would be considered “suspicious,” to the point that they would suspend an account without even a notice; their reply was that they don’t know and they can’t tell me what it is exactly.

That was it. They literally shut down a person’s source of income with absolutely no explanations.

They shut it down and they don’t even know why it was shut down. However, they still banned me from ever using their service again.

I wrote a post some time ago about my experience with print-on-demand websites and I talked about how much I love and recommend Redbubble as a free online shop, I sincerely take that back now. Please do not use this service.

I wholeheartedly believed it was an amazing service at the time, but you can only judge something based on your experience and what you have seen, and at that time, I only saw a great service. But now and after how they’ve treated this whole situation, I honestly would just recommend you go for any of the other alternatives on that list.

3. No books read

So, I had a plan to read a book every month. One book that would help me progress and benefit me on this journey; and I would write a review about it here to share the best ideas discussed with everyone.

However, I only managed to read 2 books throughout the past 5 months.

I will try to get into the habit of audiobooks, because apparently having to stare at words on a screen 24/7 is not making me very enthusiastic about seeing more words on any other page.

Ups

Now to the good and productive side of the journey!

1. Investment

I mentioned in a previous post that I started my first investment in real estate through a local home construction company; starting with a very humble amount of money, the least amount they accepted actually.

This one is successful so far and is supposed to provide a little amount of interest in the next few days, as a quarter year profit, which will hopefully help with my saving up target for the year.

2. Saving Goal

Speaking of saving up, I’m sort of halfway through my annual saving goal, so this is good news as well.

I have been practicing a lot of ways to help minimize my spendings as much as possible, since my income is not that great at the moment. So, I follow these saving money tips religiously.

I still need to find some form of a stable job though, since it’s apparently the only way I will be able to progress a bit faster with my goals.

3. Retirement Account

I was in the bank a few weeks ago and I was asking about the available index funds to see if I could afford any.

And I found something else, that is a bit similar, which is a type of insurance that withdraws a fixed amount from your bank account on a monthly basis and provides a certain profit every year.

The profit percentage is not fixed and it is mostly connected with the economy, so it is sort of a similar thing to index funds; however instead of making one-time payment to buy a fund, I make smaller monthly payments, which kind of suits my current financial situation.

So, I opened an account there and this is considered my first long-term investment method. (If you are in Egypt and want to know more about it, just contact me.)

4. Knowledge

I have learned so many new things in those past few months.

Some things I have already implemented in my life and practice and some are things that will help me in a bit of a long-term, such as the various investment methods that would make it easier for me to see what exactly I would want to do with my money once I have enough of it.

5 months ago, I had absolutely zero knowledge in any and all of the below.

a. Making Money

  • I learned how to become a host and make money with Airbnb. I was planning to put that to practice a bit earlier, but decided to put it off for personal reasons. However, I still have it on the list of things I will be doing soon.
  • I learned how to invest in index funds, and I consider this to be one of the highlights of my accomplishments, if I say so myself. This is also the first thing coming up on my list once I have enough money to put in a fund.

B. Blogging

I have learned a lot of tips and ways to help with my blog’s performance, whether it be through applying SEO or other methods that I shared here to drive more traffic.

Learning this stuff and applying them gradually has made a noticeable difference in the way the blog has been performing.

Below is a graph of my views and visitors from December 1st until April 25th. And I will not be sharing any numbers, because my focus is not on the numbers at all, just as it shouldn’t be anyone else’s, as long as progress is being made.

The point is that this curve/chart is going upwards, not a flatline and not heading downwards. That is the only thing that matters in stats.

Blog stats (views/visitors) from the period of Dec 1st to Apr 25th

Since I learned about Google’s SEO and applied most of what I learned to my website, I’ve definitely started seeing a difference in traffic, in that, I have been gaining a lot more visitors from search engines, Google and others, in the past few weeks than I have been since I started this blog.

There is no graph I could manage to get from the WordPress stats to show this progress.

But here’s how my website has been performing as recorded on Google Search Console from Dec 29th till Apr 23rd.

Google Search Console stats for my website from Dec 29 to Apr 23

I learned a lot about Pinterest, too, and how to use it to drive traffic to your website.

I’m still working on seeing results from this one as I have just started; but I did see my very first few clicks from Pinterest last week, and my curve is also moving upwards. So, hopefully, I’m on the right track.

Below is a graph of the profile reach stats over the past few weeks since I started working on the account, from March 27th to Apr 25th.

Pinterest profile reach from March 27 to Apr 25

C. Wellbeing

I have also learned how to manage goals and set up clear and achievable plans.

I developed a lot of habits that has helped my productivity, such as creating lists for everything, which has hugely impacted my life, to be honest, and helps me achieve my daily goals every day.

Also, thanks to this, my house is always clean now, because I’m rocking those chores! That’s probably too much information for you, but I wanted to put this out there: Little accomplishments count, too.

I’m physically much better than I was a few months ago, too, thanks to a workout routine, a few detox challenges here and there, and learning more about physical health and ways to keep a good posture to ease my neck and back pain.

I’m also mentally motivated, blogging-wise, thanks to a great company of bloggers who have found and read my blog and granted me with nominations for the Versatile Blogger Award, the Blogger Recognition Award, and the Sunshine Blogger Award, which I am yet to publish a post about.

5. Great Company

Speaking of great company, last but definitely not least, throughout the past few months, I have met so many amazing people.

Some of them couldn’t have been more supportive of my journey and never seem to miss an opportunity to cheer for me and lift me up with their comments and feedback.

And some of them have inspired me in a lot of different ways, and maybe without them even knowing it.

But all of them are incredibly nice and friendly people with genuine personalities that have left a huge positive impact on me.

And I would like to take this moment to give them a shoutout, just because I can (in no particular order, websiteTwitter).

Erin@Erinbabysteps
A. Jackson@AMisanthrope1
Hannah‏@PagePlacePlate
Vanessa@TheWblogger
Sandy@sundaywithsandy
Mikaela@fit_blondie_mj 
Roger@mindandlove1
Syeda@Gurru_Says
Mama Robbins@MamaRobbinsLife
Alpana@chand_alpana
M. Lanen@lanendevries
Sophie Alice@prosateuse
Kenzie@MsKenzieMack

These people have been the cause of some of my smiles, giggles, or laughters; they either taught me something new or just been such great companions that made my journey, so far, a much more enjoyable one!

I cannot wait to meet more amazing people and learn more and, hopefully, achieve more of my goals to eventually reach the ultimate one: Becoming my own boss.

Till next week, happy days!

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7 Easy Ways To Save More Money

Saving money is a crucial step if someone wants to have a shot at financial freedom, because in order to be able to invest your money, first you need to have saved some.

How I took the decision to start saving:

I actually did not care about saving money in the past, mainly because I had no reason to. I had worked a few jobs which mostly paid me well, but I had nothing to save for at the time, no real financial responsibilities and no financial goal to save for, so I did not feel the urge and I did not see the point in saving.

If I see something I like, and I have the money for it then I will buy it; otherwise, why am I even working?–That has been my mentality up until a few months ago.

Then I had a reality check. Several months ago, I became entirely dependent on myself and instead of living with my parents, I was alone for some time. I had a job that paid me well, and had a humble amount of money that was still saved because I hadn’t spent it on anything yet.

From the outside, I may not have seemed like a lavish spender but I did spend a lot of money, most of it was wasted on food, jewelry, books and skincare products (yep, those are my weaknesses!). I can hardly feel bad about books, though, because I feel that is an investment itself, but everything else, not so much.

At that time, for some reason I went through this shopping frenzy where I was making a lot of purchases online and not thinking twice about it. And I had reached to a point where I was eating out/ordering in every single day and, sometimes, multiple times a day.

And because I am not used to paying attention to my spending or caring about money, one day, I was about to make an order for a meal, and just casually checked my wallet before I ordered and I found that I only had 50 pounds left in my pocket (that’s about $3), I tried checking my bank account and that was about zeros. And this was not even the shocking part, but it was when I realized that there was still an entire week left until the salary would come in.

This was a real turning point for me because this was the first time in my life where I literally had no money, not even enough to buy myself a meal; that was a scary moment. (But hey! let’s not get too dramatic. I did have food at home, I was just too lazy to cook it.)

And, even though I did have a credit card available, so I could still have access to money until pay day, that money was not really mine.

So, that was when I realized I needed to change my spending habits and look at money differently (also, when I realized I needed to start cooking!). But even though I started paying attention to how I spend money, still I wasn’t saving much. So I had to figure a better way to save more.

Save money and money will save you

1. Set a Budget

This is probably a technique that is as old as money itself, but still I only started doing that like 2 months ago. Setting a budget is not easy if you don’t know how much money you actually spend every month and what exactly you spend it on.

So, in order to set the right budget for myself, I had to monitor my spendings, document how much I spent and what I spent it on. I did that for 2-3 months just to make sure that whatever amount I set will be an accurate one, so I would not have to go over it at any point.

2. Set a Saving Goal

As I mentioned earlier, the reason I never cared to save money was because I had no reason to save. So, I had to create a reason that would motivate me and push me into saving and keep up with my goal.

Since I started this experiment (as I like to call it) of achieving financial freedom, I set a yearly saving goal for myself.

For now, my saving goal is to save enough money by the end of this year so I can buy an additional fund in the home construction company I discussed in the passive income: 4 real estate investing options post. And to be able to achieve that amount by the end of the year, I broke it down to a monthly saving goal.

It is also better if you have those monthly and yearly goals set in writing and have it somewhere where you can always see it, so it doesn’t slip away from your mind.

3. Think Before You Buy

Now do I really need to buy that one-of-a-kind veggie slicer? Or this never-before-never-again pair of trousers?

I used to buy a lot of things and end up not ever using them. Until this moment, there are pieces of clothing which I bought a couple years back that still have the purchase ticket on.

Things can look tempting at first glance and if you don’t stop yourself for a moment and actually think whether or not you need this, and whether or not you will actually use it, you will end up spending so much money on absolute nonsense (like this one time, several months ago, when I paid $200 on a teeth whitening device that is still in its delivery package wrap till this day).

Now, before I buy anything, I give myself enough time to think it over, again and again, before I decide. Also, if I’m doing an online purchase, I usually wait a day or two and see if I still want it as bad, because sometimes when I wait, I’d no longer be interested in buying it.

You will be surprised how much money you will save by doing just that.

If you buy things you do not need, soon you will have to sell things you need.

Warren Buffett

4. Use the Internet

Consider the internet your new, trusted best friend who you need to consult before you do anything.

There is an unimaginable number of things you can learn to do on the internet. So, before you decide to spend your money on something, make sure you can’t find a cheaper way to do it or a DIY replacement for it. (I save about 300-400 pounds per hairdresser visit just by learning how to cut and dye my own hair.)

You can also use the internet to find out about deals and discounts. It is actually interesting how much money you can save by just doing a little bit of research before going shopping for anything.

Real-life example: I was looking to buy a pair of shoes recently, and I found the ones I wanted for about 1,099 pounds in one of the go-to stores that I already know; however, with just a little bit of research, I found the exact same pair for 595 pounds and they even had a free-delivery offer for the month. So, not only have I saved on the shoes itself, but I also had it delivered to my doorstep for FREE. All it took was just some digging online.

One other thing I can totally thank the internet for is that it basically feeds me. As you probably already noticed, I’m a quite lazy person, so cooking was never really my thing. However, thanks to YouTube videos and some cooking websites, I can find a lot of easy and quick (and delicious) recipes to cook at home and from ingredients I already have. Apart from the fact that it is way more healthy, it is a major money saver!

5. Open a Savings Account

Remember that saving goal I mentioned earlier? Well, you’re going to need a place to save that money. One of the options is to open a new savings account that is separate from any account you’re already using.

Beside your saving goal, use this account to save any money left from your current month’s budget. And don’t worry if it’s only just a few pounds. If you have an extra 50 pounds left from your budget every month, that is 600 pounds by the end of the year; not a huge amount, yes, but that’s 600 pounds more in your account for basically doing nothing.

For me, I use an account which I did not get an ATM card for, just to make it harder for myself to withdraw any money from it.

6. Ditch Your Credit Card

The problem with credit cards is that they trick you into thinking you have money, when you really don’t.

Spending money you don’t have is the number one enemy to saving in my opinion. You are, voluntarily, throwing yourself as a victim to debt. If you can’t afford something to pay it off your budget, then you can’t afford it.

The only reason I ever use my credit card is to set a credit score. So, I make small transactions which I already have the money for it cash. But instead of paying it cash, I use the credit card then I pay off that card loan. I never pay an amount with my credit card that I don’t already have its equivalent in cash.

This way, I set a good credit score for myself while staying away from ever being in debt.

7. Eat Your Breakfast

You’ve probably heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day for several reasons, but one thing I noticed when I was working a 9-hour day job was that on the days I did not have breakfast at home, I would spend a lot more money at work.

I would buy something to eat when it’s early during my shift and because it usually wasn’t a proper meal or even healthy, I would feel the need to have more snacks throughout the day. And I tend to buy a bigger meal for lunch than what I would normally eat which would be a more expensive meal (and more kilograms on the scale).

However, when I have a proper breakfast at home, I’m never tempted to buy any snacks or junk food during the day. And I’m full till it’s time for lunch.

And since I already started to cook at home, as mentioned in tip #4, I would have a home-made meal to eat for lunch which I prepared the day before. This way I wouldn’t need to spend that extra money on food at work.

Click to Pin it on Pinterest.

Those were the main 7 tips I know that has helped me save more and, hopefully, will help you too!

Till next week, happy days!

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