My Journey: August 2013 Update

August 2013

Photo Credit: Pink Sherbet Photography, cc

Welcome to my first monthly update. Originally I was planning these more frequently, however I quickly realized that on a day to day basis there wasn’t enough exciting things happening to warrant an entire blog post. Moving forwards you can expect to see just one consolidated update for the month, covering both my personal finance progress and the progress of this blog.


Personal Finance Progress

Debt Reduction

We made less progress this month than expected with reducing our mortgage. Our offset account has grown by $2756 to bring it to a total of just under $22,000. My partner had to pay for a $1,300 course for her job which will be reimbursed, but it hasn’t come through yet. Once we factor this back in, we were pretty much on target. Our interest rate has dropped 0.25% to 5.08% effective of the 19th, so we should start to see the savings from this next month.

Investment

Although reducing our debt is my number one priority, I have been considering  contributing a small amount per month towards an index ETF. I am considering either an S&P500 Index ETF or an ASX 200 Index (my domestic equivalent). Both have far outperformed my mortgage interest rate over the last 12 months, however it is important to consider that I do not want to sell stock back to pay off the debt. Nothing has been decided as yet, but keep an eye out in next month’s update!

Home

August marked the one year anniversary of moving into our home. While the inside has come together respectably, our backyard still looks pretty horrific. My number one goal here is to pave a few unused garden beds and potentially re-pave some of the existing area, which has significantly shifted due to sandy soil and poor workmanship to begin with. Unfortunately I’ve got zero paving experience – I can’t even find a supplier for pavers that match our existing ones! For this reason, we might need to get someone in to help us out but I’m not expecting it to come cheap…

Erecting a small garden shed, planting something in the remaining garden beds and trying to tame my weed-infested lawn are all on the cards for the future – but it’s one step at a time as everything costs money which we can’t justify at this stage.


Blog Progress

After launching in late July, August was the first whole month that Financial Independence has been online. The month has been full of changes and learning – while I’ve run small sites in the past, I have quickly discovered I know very little about blogging!

Content

When I originally started writing posts for Financial Independence, I was aiming to produce a 500 word article every few days. This plan changed midway through the month when I decided I would rather focus my energy on a couple of quality, helpful posts than half a dozen average ones. Since making this change, I’ve been able to produce two 800-1000 word articles per week. The feedback on these longer articles has been encouraging and I will be aiming to stick to this post schedule moving forwards.

Traffic

At the start of the month I installed Google Analytics. This is a free service which provides me with (anonymous) user statistics for visitors to my site. It allows me to see where my visitors are coming from (search engines, other blogs) as well as which pages people are reading and how long they spend on the site. For the first 8 days of August I didn’t receive any visitors to my site at all (my own pageviews are excluded). Around August 9 I started to see a trickle of traffic from my first back links, averaging under 10 visitors per day.

August 2013 Stats

Total traffic for August was 772 visitors, generating 2,104 page views.

On the 20th, Retired Syd was kind enough to publish one of my posts on her blog which lead to a (relatively) massive spike in traffic for a few days. It also appeared to be the tipping point to having enough back links to start seeing a few visits from search engine traffic. This has meant that I’m now seeing around 30 visits per day. While this is nowhere near the levels of traffic seen by some of the successful financial bloggers, but you’ve got to start somewhere. I have been lucky to receive a few links from Pauline at Reach Financial Independence  and Len Penzo - thank you both for your support.

Revenue

Off of 772 visitors you can’t expect to be generating much revenue, but I managed to scrape in just over $8 for the month between Adsense and FlexOffers. Despite this being less than the cost of a Big Mac meal, I’m actually pretty happy with this. Monetizing the site isn’t a priority for myself at this stage, however I do have domain, webhosting and theme costs that I would like to earn back. Right now the focus is on building a valuable resource providing advice for those seeking to better themselves financially. Until this goal has been met, revenue takes a back seat.

September Blog Goals

For the upcoming month of September I’d like to reach 1,000 blog visitors. While this is a 30% increase I believe it is definitely possible with a bit more search engine traffic and networking. I’m in the process of organizing another guest posting this month. I believe that building relationships with other bloggers is much more valuable than just building links.

Along with an increase to visitors, I’d like to nearly double my blog earnings to $15. For the first half of the month I had virtually no traffic, so a full month combined with increased traffic should get me there without too many hassles. I will continue to post twice per week, however I’d rather cut this back to once per week if I have trouble rather than pumping out content for the sake of it.

 

Follow on Bloglovin

15 comments

  1. FI Pilgrim says:

    Looking good Evan! You have a well thought out plan and your site is very informative. Keep up the good work!

  2. Retired Syd says:

    Exactly, you gotta start somewhere! Glad to see you got a few new readers . . .

  3. Michelle says:

    Sounds like you are doing great. Good job with your blog!

  4. Liquid says:

    That’s great about the interest rate drop on your loan! Is the $22K in AUD or USD? Either way, it sounds like you’ve got a good handle on your debt situation :) I have about $20K CAD outstanding on a line of credit. My goal is to pay it off before the end of 2015. One way I pay off debt without selling my stocks is by purchasing stocks in a margin account, which lets me borrow money against the securities I have. The interest rate is lower than an unsecured loan. For me it’s 4.25% right now. It may not be ideal for everyone, but it’s an option if you want to give it a burl ;)

    • Evan says:

      The $22k is in AUD, so a touch below USD20,000. I have considered investing on margin, however unfortunately I’ve run through the numbers and will probably only be able to invest $500-1000 per month. My broker has a 20k minimum margin facility so it will take a while to get there!

      Another area I’ve considered is brokerage – every trade in I lose $10 to fees, so given my small contribution one purchase every 2 months might be the way to go (to keep brokerage below 1%).

  5. That is a nice spike in blog traffic. When you’re just starting out its important to really do a lot of guest posts and commenting on other sites to try to drum up attention. It also helps in the beginning to do a lot of “blog roundups” to other blogs. Usually when you’re willing to link to someone, they will repay the favor.

    • Evan says:

      Thanks for your feedback – I’m planning on guest posting at least once per month however ideally I’ll be doing it once every few weeks. I agree that it’s a great way to gain attention, the spike in visitors shows this!

  6. Great work with the blog Evan, a few visitors is a great start. Keep up the great content and I’m sure you’ll be one of those big bloggers one day!

  7. Great work.. my only suggestion would be to keep it up and even if you can’t figure out something to write, put it up anyway! The point is you want to keep the habit of writing going even if you feel you don’t have something of value to say. You never know who will be reading. As far as investing over the debt payment. I would opt to clear the debt first. Any payment towards your debt will give your a risk for 5% return, if you play the market you will have to be in for 20 years to get the average 8% return. Even then you have to factor in taxes and risk… Unless you’re making a significant higher return than market averages.. pay down the debt.

  8. I think it took me a few months to make $8, so great job there. Paying off debt vs investing is always the dilemma isn’t it? I’m trying to do both until the debt is gone once and for all.

  9. Hey Evan, seems like we started around the same time. Good work on your traffic and progress. I’m following you on Bloglovin :)

  10. Evan says:

    Dominique and Kim – This was my initial train of thought, paying down debt is essentially a risk free return. It’s quite tempting to buy into the market while it’s surging ahead, but its important to consider the long term as opposed to jumping to conclusions without proper consideration.

    Nell – Thanks for the follow. I’ll make sure I keep an eye on your blog, it’s always interesting to see how others are travelling – even more so when it’s a fellow Aussie!

  11. Ben says:

    Hi Evan,

    Congrats on the progress for the month. I’m also a 25 year old Aussie with a recently found interest in Financial Independence. I’m envious that have already managed to buy your own home! My wife and I have just started saving a deposit this year, so it will be at least a couple more years before we reach this goal.

    I’m interested in your dilemma around investing vs debt reduction. Although it’s a ways off for us yet, one idea/strategy I have been exploring as a potentially key part of our financial plan is debt recycling. As you may know, this basically involves splitting your existing home loan to create an investment loan, and using the equity you have built up in extra repayments or an offset account to buy investment assets. This keeps your level of debt the same; however the investment loan becomes tax deductible. You then use the income from investments (dividends, rental income etc) to reinvest into your home loan, then draw on this equity through your investment loan.

    Eventually, you will pay off the entirety of the “home” (non-deductible) part of your loan, then plow investment income into eliminating your investment debt.

    To make this strategy successful, you would of course need to carefully check that your loan structure and approach met the requirements of the Australian Tax Office for allowing debt to be tax deductible.

    Would be interested to know if this is a strategy that you have or would consider?

    • Evan says:

      Hi Ben, thanks very much for your comment! It’s great to meet someone else from Australia who has taken an interest in working towards financial independence at a young age. I started saving for my own home before finishing university and was lucky to find a partner who also earns a good wage. Additionally, we live in one of the countries cheapest capital cities.

      In regards to your question, I’ve actually taken the liberty of writing an article which addresses your query about debt recycling.

Leave a comment

All fields marked (*) are required