State of the Blog: June 2017

Happy July 4th, y’all. Welcome to our State of the Blog post for June 2017. In this month’s edition, we’ll talk about swimming, mojitos, rental property, and my experiments with Instagram.

June was a busy month that started with track-out and our trip to Great Wolf Lodge. Then Little Bit went back to school to finish up first grade, took some swim lessons, and turned seven. Our garden started bearing fruit (or at least zucchini.) I perfected my mojito.

And we spent a bunch of money, but not so much that I’m worried about it.

Blog Stuff

Good news! Being able to stick to a Tuesday post schedule (with one extra post about the garden) meant our numbers didn’t drop again after having mediocre traffic in May. Posting once a week makes it far easier to come up with good content. Plus, I’ve worked on more promotion than I did in the earlier part of the year. As a result, each blog post has more impact.

So, good news, my numbers beat last year. Bad news, last year in July I started writing 3 posts a week and my numbers went way up. That probably won’t happen again.

I still didn’t take any blog classes and need to work on some before my year’s up. I took a tax class instead, but that doesn’t help the blog. However, I did refresh 3 old posts with some much-needed edits and new graphics. I have several more that could use it, but it’s good to make some progress.

I’ll continue posting on Tuesdays, and do one extra gardening post a month. (I’m shooting for next week.) I also went over blog numbers with Jon. I’m hoping that between running around to his property management duties he can scratch out an article. He’s mentioned his frugal DIY, but also modern portfolio theory. I’d say it’s a toss-up.

Most Read Post of June: Three Days at Great Wolf Lodge: A Review

Favorite Post: How to Become a Millionaire: Jon’s 10 Minute Speech to New Grads

Instagram

My shiny new Moto G5 still makes me cackle with glee, but it has some blog ramifications as well. First, I’m taking much clearer pictures. I hope that shows up in the photography.

Second, better photos and more memory prompted me to do something with my Instagram account. I’ve had it for a while, but basically just looked at other people’s photos. Now, you can follow me for more garden/family/project pictures. A lot of the pictures are the same ones I’ve been posting on our Facebook page, which has also been more active lately. But not all, so if you’re on both, you’ll see some differences.

That said, I’ve only been playing with Instagram for 3 weeks. Feel free to offer any advice, because I have no idea what I’m doing.

 

State of the Blog June 2017

 

Rental Property

May marked many college graduations, including the graduation of three of our tenants. And with graduation, came their moving day.

Our total rental income from June was less than half of what we usually get, but that’s to be expected for any landlord. Unless you’re incredibly lucky, you’ll have some vacancies every now and then. That means you’ll be missing some income right at the time you’ll need to do some extra maintenance on your rental property.

The best you can do is save your cash, do the cleanup and maintenance as fast as you can, and concentrate on finding a new tenant. We feel fortunate that our former tenants were incredibly conscientious. Clean up went quickly and easily, and while there were a few maintenance issues, they were all cosmetic. As turnovers go, this one was easy.

Jon sent them their deposits back quickly, with the little interest that had accrued on them.

Fortunately, the empty property sits a couple of miles from NC State. Putting a couple of signs in the windows resulted in several calls, and it looks like we may get new tenants in before the end of July. That’s way faster than we expected, but it’s not a done deal yet.

Seven

Little Bit turned seven this month. We celebrated with a vacation, a trip to the movies, and a big family dinner. While I can’t say I see the woman she’ll be yet, I certainly see glimpses of the teenager peek through every now and then. 

From a parenting standpoint, Little Bit grew immensely in the past year. She can take her own showers and wash her own hair. She can get herself in the car, buckled up, and out again without any help.

New chores, like helping to fold and put away her own clothes, were put on her list. She can now reach the kitchen sink to fill a glass (as long as her dad or I get the glass down for her.)

These are big steps on the road to self-sufficiency.

Little Bit’s current goal in life is to start a YouTube channel, and she’s negotiating how much money we’ll pitch in for a computer of her very own. I’ve tried to convince her to do some car and home repair videos with Jon. (Kid Mechanic. You’d watch that, right?) Or at least help us out with a family personal finance vlog.

Alas, she wants to launch a gaming channel.

Meanwhile, she has a keen interest in computer games and a developing curiosity about coding and animation.

Her classmates described her as “Smart,” “Funny,” “Sweet,” and “Positive.” I agree.

Second Grade starts Monday.

The To-Do List

To recap, my goals for the year were to:

  • Live Healthier
  • Increase Financial Health
  • Improve the Blog
  • Do Good Things
  • Get Rid of Excess Stuff

Live Healthier

I still ate too much sugar and need to get back to no sugar during the week. I blame good sales on Turkey Hill ice cream. (It won Gary’s 2017 SST award for Best Ice Cream!)  At least I ate more veggies than usual.

On a positive note, I got at least 2 if not 3 days of exercise each week in June. I love to swim, and we’ve had mainly good weather. Thirty minutes of lap swimming plus thirty plus of chasing Little Bit makes me feel pretty good about myself.

Increase Financial Health

I moved both my IRAs and my brokerage account to Vanguard. Not only is it much easier to track my investments, now that they are in one place, but I should save a bunch on fees. However, I still need to go into the accounts and update my investment basis for each transferred investment. Then I can start the process of selling overpriced mutual funds and buying index funds.

I plan to cut back on the amount of fun money I’m spending this month. I’m not trying a no-spend month, but we can spend a bit less on groceries, entertainment, and clothes than we have the last couple of months.

I started a new side hustle. More about that next month.

Improve the Blog

See above.

Do Good Things

I worked the school store after Little Bit’s track out, and will likely do so again after school starts. Bible school comes up this month, and I have a yet-to-be-determined role to play.

Get Rid of Excess Stuff

Not much. Jon and I went through some excess paperwork that had built up. Jon burned a bunch of itbut we never got around to the closets or toy totes.

Of course, not having a birthday party for Little Bit meant fewer toys coming into the house.

My Mojito (It’s Pretty Darn Good)

Make some simple syrup, if you don’t have any. (Boil equal parts sugar and water for 3 minutes and let it cool.)

Take 8-9 good-sized mint leaves and put in a tall glass. Using the end of a wooden spoon, mash them against the side of the glass for a minute.

Add the juice of half a lime and a shot of gold rum.

Yes, I know mojitos are supposed to have white rum. Use the gold stuff instead, it tastes better.

Mash those mint leaves up some more with the juice and rum.

Add 3-4 cubes of ice and the lime pulp and peel.

Pour in soda water and simple syrup to taste. I use a bit less than a tablespoon so it’s not too sweet.

Stir. Wait 5 minutes to let the flavors meld. (This is the only hard part.) Stir again. Drink.

Wrapping Up June 2017

So June was full of celebrations, good food, some accomplishments, and swimming. July should be more laid back, with more work on the rentals, more gardening, and hopefully a bit more progress on the decluttering project.

You can follow us on  TwitterFacebook. Pinterest,  InstagramGoogle+ and StumbleUpon. Also feel free to let us know if you have a topic you’d like us to cover. or just want to say hi!

How did June 2017 go for you? Any Instagram tips? 

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*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich.*

 

 

 

28 thoughts on “State of the Blog: June 2017

  1. Sounds like things are going along well! I’m glad the new blog schedule is working out for you. They say to spend 20% of your time writing and 80% of your time promoting, so in the end it may work out even better than you imagine.

    I have very little photographic talent (yet another reason I haven’t delved into Instagram), but your photos definitely pop and I enjoy them.

    I’m glad to hear Little Bit has some interest in coding and animation. While a gaming channel might not be what you were hoping for, it could spur on that interest which could be very lucrative in the future. Not to mention we need more women in technology.

    And finally, Turkey Hill does have some no-sugar added flavors although not every place carries them. The drawback is that they contain Splenda, so not good if you’re trying to avoid artificial sweeteners.
    Gary @ Super Saving Tips recently posted…Financial Freedom and the 4th of JulyMy Profile

    • Yeah, I’m trying to encourage the coding interest with Lightbot and Code.org. I’m trying to emphasize that if she really wants to be a coder, there’s no reason she can’t start acting on it and become a coder, but that she has to act on it rather than just wish for it. Right now, she’s saving up for a new computer.

      We don’t do artificial sweeteners in our house. Jon’s very anti, and most of the time it doesn’t hurt us (I’d rather drink plain water than diet soda any day.) I like the TurkeY Hill All-Natural line but only buy it when it’s on special.

  2. First off, I use dark rum in everything. Eggnog, baking, rum and coke, you get the picture. It is currently the only alcohol in the house unless you count the Bailey’s in the fridge. Not crazy about Mojitos, but I will drink a Daiquiri any day. About exercise. I currently own an almost new three wheel bike with an ample basket on the back. I try to ride it Mon-Sat to pick up our mail. That is a little over a mile a day. In addition, I try to swim every other day. Trying very hard to teach Uncle Jim how to go to the deep end, hold on the he edge, and exercise his legs and knees. We even have a nice set of pool exercises given to us when he had his knee replacement. I also swim laps, but no way he is going to do that. Working on some new exercises to slim down my out of proportion big waist. I have turned into a gardener, like my mom. Unbelievable how much exercise one can get working outside. I actually have visible muscles in my upper arms! Uncle Jim cuts the grass now (riding mower), but I do all the trimming and cleaning up (blowing off walks and driveway). As for food, I am proud to announce I have given up soft drinks. I used to consume 3 or 4 cans of Coke Cherry Zero a day. Due to recent dental/jaw surgery, I could not have soda for a couple of weeks. I started drinking a lot of ice water, skim milk, and maybe one glass of iced tea a day. I tried a soda again and it actually sort of burned the inside of my mouth, so decided now was the time to quit drinking all those chemicals. We also got an “Air Fryer” and do not deep fry anything anymore. Also, we try to get all organic veggies and fruit we can. That’s the report from Sunny Florida!

    • I understand hashtags are the way to go, but gosh, it makes the posts so hard to read when there are 30 hashtags. Glad it’s helping your goals, Erik.

  3. Thanks for the update! It’s always great to hear how things are going for you guys. Nice work on moving to Vanguard, I’m sure that’s a decision that will benefit you for years to come. Thanks as well for the mojito recipe – I am a sucker for those around this time of year so will have to give it a shot this weekend! 🙂
    Jay recently posted…Free Trend Following Trade Ideas for July 2017 (Part 1)My Profile

    • Thanks, Jay. Yep, moving everything took a couple of weeks (only because the paperwork for inherited IRAs has to be physically signed and submitted.) But it’s done! Enjoy the mojito!

  4. Happy Birthday to Little Bit! At some point, you may have to drop “Little” 🙂

    I have a personal Instagram, account, I have not taken the plunge for the blog. I’m trying to keep my social media effort focused, but having a good smartphone camera does make it easy to post.

    No mojito for us, my wife’s been on a margarita kick. So I play along. Ice Cream is our families downfall! Looks like June was a great month! Here’s to a great July!
    Brian recently posted…Debt Discipline FeedbackMy Profile

    • Yeah, I’m not sure what I’ll call Little Bit but she’s not so little. She’s becoming quite the young lady.

      Margaritas are fun too. I probably prefer them, but with all the fresh mint around, the mojitos are a nice changeup.

  5. Great report, Emily. So many positive events! Can’t wait to see Little Bit become a star.

    When you refreshed your posts did you make a note like “originally posted on XX”? We’ve got a lot to do on that front as well.

    The Moto G5 looks awesome. Enjoy! I’d like to get something similar, unlocked, but a bit cheaper. Most of the Verizon MVNOs (like the one I use, Selectel) now have no roaming – I may as well get cheaper service with more data – but with a 4G phone. I’ve got the old Moto G (I think it’s 2nd generation, 3G). I’m looking now at Boom Mobile which I’m hearing great things about. At least with an unlocked phone you can switch providers easily.

    Good luck with the rental. I hope you get a contract in place soon.
    Mrs. Groovy recently posted…An Unexpected Consequence of Blogging: FriendsMy Profile

    • Thanks, Mrs. G. I haven’t been consistent with refreshing the posts. On some of them, I’ve republished the content and those I’ve been clear about the original publishing date. On others, where I’ve either just made grammatical corrections or put in new images, I haven’t indicated a change. I should be more consistent, though, because I’m not sure I’ve taken as much advantage of the work I’ve been doing as I could.

      I definitely splurged a bit on my new phone. But I was so unhappy with the functionality of the last one, I figured I should bite the bullet and buy what I really want. Jon says he can go without, but I’ll probably check the prices on Prime Day. And yeah, the unlocked Moto G works pretty well on most services.

  6. Happy birthday to Little Bit! 🙂 It’s not surprising she wants to start her own youtube channel. My daughter talked about starting a youtube channel for 2 years. I think she has a couple of videos out there so far (gaming), but hasn’t really focused on it too much yet.

    Congrats on a great month – it looks like you are doing well on the goals. Hopefully you get renters quickly! And thank for the mojito recipe. I have a mint plant taking over my backyard so I can now put some of those mint leaves to good use!
    Amanda @ centsiblyrich recently posted…Centsibly Rich June Update: First Rental Property EditionMy Profile

    • Ha, you’ll have to let me know what her videos are. We’ll check them out. We watch gaming videos all the time now (well, Little Bit watches them and I sit in the same room.)

      Looks like we got our tenants and will have a signed lease/deposit/rent this weekend. Way faster than we thought. We’ve had so many inquiries this time, I suspect that maybe our rent is too low, but at least we get a quick turnaround.

  7. Nice job Emily. All good stuff. Having your daughter hit 7 – things definitely start to change. I remember thinking when my oldest nieces went from 5 to 7, it blew my mind. Then I watched my first son really grow up in those years and it was as dramatic as I expected. My little one is 5 now, so I am hanging on to his baby-hood for dear life — they really start to become big kids after kindergarten. But other, fun things start to happen as well and new doors open for family fun and a little more independence, both kids and parents, which isn’t a bad thing. Happy July!

    • Thanks, Linda. We’re enjoying having Little Bit be a little more independent, but it’s nice that she can still cuddle up on my lap when she’s feeling like it too. I know those days are passing quickly. Happy July to you!

  8. OK, my favourite photo is the one of your daughter. So cute! Seven, eight, and nine are great ages. Enjoy them! Pre-teen and teen? Don’t worry about that yet : ) I’m glad your schedule is working out well, and I would say don’t worry about your stats. I’m exactly where you are with the exercise/food issue. I’m generally good with work-outs (though not this week), but sugar is impossible! I don’t think I can go cold-turkey, but I can limit sugar if I’m mindful. If I “go with the flow”, there’s just too much sugar. My brother is a landlord for students, so I recognize the stress of finding new tenants. I wish you luck in finding them – and it sounds like it’s going to work out. It’s such a great investment. You won’t regret it. All the best in July!
    Fruclassity (Ruth) recently posted…Happy Independence DayMy Profile

    • Thanks, Ruth. Yeah, we just got back from a week at my dad’s lake house. Great for exercise (we took our kayaks.) But, there was ice cream and a couple of sodas consumed.

      I love the picture of Little Bit, too. Swim lessons!

  9. “Jon sent them their deposits back quickly, with the little interest that had accrued on them.”

    Was it an obligation to set the deposits aside in interest bearing accounts? I didn’t know about this!

    We’re getting back on the clearing out of excess stuff horse as well, time is ticking for us!
    Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life recently posted…The fun we had: Spring 2017My Profile

    • Jon says it’s a rule, though I’ve never had a landlord do that when I paid a deposit. He set the deposit in its own interest-bearing account, which he had noted in the lease, and closed it when it was time to pay back the deposit. He also said that anything we took out of the deposit, we would have had to document (there would not have been anything, the girls were amazing tenants.) It may depend on the state, though I imagine CA is even stricter with this type of stuff than NC.

  10. I like Vanguard and I think if you check the cost basis on their dashboard you’ll find that it is what you originally paid, not what you transferred over–at least that’s what happened to us.
    RAnn recently posted…The State of My BlogMy Profile

    • So glad you said this! The basis had not come over when I checked last week, but now I see it and it’s all there. That is a ton of work I don’t have to do. I guess I’ll be selling some high-fee mutual funds next week.

  11. Happy Birthday Little Bit! Goofball turned seven in June too! I wish he wanted to do something as ambitious as starting a YouTube channel. Instead, he seems more interested in creating mischief.

    I’ve been enjoying your pictures on Instagram. I also got a new phone and started a new Instagram account LOL!!

    Good list of goals and I can’t wait to hear about your new side hustle 🙂
    Harmony@CreatingMyKaleidoscope recently posted…Money Hack: How To Pay Off Debt By Taking A VacationMy Profile

    • Ha, new phones do kind of lead to Instagram. I noticed with my old phone I was barely taking pictures, but now I’m taking bunches because the quality is so much better.

    • At least at Vanguard, it was way easier than I thought it would be. There were several extra steps involved with getting the inherited IRA transferred, but everything else was really easy. It was just a matter of having my statements at hand so I could give account numbers.

  12. The first time I had a Mojito was when Mrs. Groovy and I visited Charleston, SC, around four or five years ago. And it was blah! But about a year after that we were over my sister’s, and her friend made Mojitos and they were out of this world. So I have incredible admiration for anyone who can make a wicked Mojito. I hope Jon appreciates you.

    • Most of the time, we do a good job of appreciating each other, LOL. He probably takes me for granted less than I take him, though.

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