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March Income & Transparency: Why I’m Investing So Much Into You Vs. Debt…

in Do What You Love, MvD Updates, People & Products

Each month, as part of an ongoing transparency project, I share the income, expenses, and master plans of my pursuit to earn a living online. This includes many of the expenses related to our RV lifestyle.

Personal finance should not be a taboo subject in our society. The more light we can shed – and the more examples we can share – the better off we are!


First, here’s a look back at March (by the numbers):

March’s Business Income/Expenses…

Unautomate Revenue (off the market):  $221.00

  • Total Guides Sold:  13

Sell Your Crap Revenue:  $1318.40

  • Total Guides Sold (all versions):  33

Additional Income:  $11,122.11

Direct Expenses:  -$4994.48

  • You Vs. Debt Filming:  -$1040.00
  • Virtual Assistants: -$740.00
  • Food & Drink: -$653.29
  • Airfare:  -$646.20
  • Sketch Graphics: -$400.00
  • Website tech work: -$292.50
  • Affiliate Payments:  -$274.88
  • External HDs: -$213.44
  • Shut Up & Hustle: -$175.00
  • AppSumo Deal: -$99.00
  • Team Member Gifts: -$75.00
  • Paypal Fees: -$74.98
  • Aweber:  -$49.00
  • Basecamp (canceled): -$49.00
  • Icon image package: -$49.00
  • Virgin Mobile: -$40.00
  • Wufoo: -$29.95
  • Travel Hacking Cartel: -$25.00
  • E-junkie:  -$10.00
  • MailChimp:  -$10.00
  • DropBox:  -$9.99
  • Amazon S3: -$8.25

Net (Income – Expenses):  $7667.03

Over the last 12 months, this brings the average net to: ~$5860/month.

Like last month, this month was all about pumping more time, energy, and money into building my You Vs. Debt course.

I’ve cut down many of my past income streams to focus on building the absolute best training I can. I flew away from the RV for a week (to two different locations) to finish up video editing and course planning with other team members.

Much of the increase in hardware and software is going to help with the same cause. I’ll be the first to admit many of these expenses are high due to me testing different solutions. I’m testing VA’s, new software/accounts, graphics, etc… (in addition to the increased travel costs).

The good news is I’m starting to find the solutions and the workflow that works best for me (and the couple of people I’m working with). This will allow me to cut the fat in the coming months – and pump up the expenses that truly pay off.

Why am I’m spending so much time and money on You Vs. Debt?

I’ve been getting a great question (from several people) over the past few months.

Essentially, much of what I can do to generate income has *extremely* low overhead. In other words, my raw expenses to create just another eBook would be less than $1000 – even for a high-quality one.

Consulting expenses? Almost nothing. Same for freelance writing – nearly no direct expenses.

So if I’m able to generate a decent income with almost no overhead… why am I spending so much money to produce You Vs. Debt?

Simple answer: It’s the most in-depth creative endeavor I’ve ever attempted – one that has the potential to change the lives of tens of thousands of people.

There are hundreds of eBooks (many high-quality) just among bloggers I know alone. eBooks, however, can only go so far in their interaction and impact on the reader.

I can do better.

I have the power to go deeper.

I have the ability to build an interactive multimedia course – and to bring together a community that’ll help hold each other accountable.

Most importantly, I realized that stepping up my game would enable me to shift people’s relationship with money and debt on a level no eBook or blog post can.

Last week, I emailed out to the You Vs. Debt early adopters list and set up 8 phone calls with readers at all points in their financial journey. I simply wanted to hear what they were going through in their own words.

Those phone calls were mind-blowing. I knew they’d be helpful, but I never could have estimated how motivating it would be for me to talk 1-on-1 with others about their challenges. (I talk to people about these issues all the time on the road – but not back-to-back at that intensity!)

Talking with those readers reminded me that fighting back against your debt isn’t just a matter of knowing the step-by-step process.  Sure, it’s important to know the basic steps… but it doesn’t stop there.

You can’t fight debt with logic alone. A person’s environment, community, and mindset are the biggest factors in their long-term success!

Over the next couple weeks, I’ll be opening “You Vs. Debt” to a very small group of pioneer members. We’ll be gathering feedback from these early adopters to help shape future curriculum for the general public.

This initial batch of seats will only be sent to the members of the private notification list below (I won’t be making them available here on Man Vs. Debt):

 

 

West Coast here we come!…

Our RV Tour continues to motor along…

We had an amazing time meeting so many inspiring and fun people at SxSw in March. Austin seems like such a fun city – I’m not sure I’d want to live there – but I love having the chance to visit once per year.

On that note, thanks again to everyone who came out to the SxSw meetup. We had a packed house as Adaptu.com provided free coffee and breakfast to everyone!

I gave well over 15 RV tours, most with over 5 people coming through. It was a blast to pack so many people in such a short time (even if we were tired afterwards)!  I really do appreciate it!

Next up is Phoenix!

We’ve been here a week or so, but this Friday we are hosting a BBQ meetup with the amazing Pam Slim. If you are in the greater Phoenix area, we’d love to hang out!

Over the coming weekend, we’ll likely motor out to San Diego area. We’ll be spending at least a week in the area and hosting a San Diego meetup, as well!

The end of April will likely bring L.A. into focus – with the new potential of a quick plane trip to Panama to visit family!

The fun doesn’t stop! :-)

RV Expenses/Lifestyle Cost…

Speaking of the tour, here’s a glimpse at the expenses related to our RV lifestyle (for March).

Gas: $1433.06 (+11%)

We hit the road in two big spurts this month – from Tampa to Austin – and from Austin out to Phoenix.

We made some stops along the way, but those two huge drives really put on the miles this month!

Campground Fees: $564.47 (+260%)

Our campground fees shot up to a much higher amount as we lost the benefit of staying with friends in Tampa.

Being in the Austin area for SxSw also brought along premiums that were a little higher than normal. All things considered, we didn’t do too poorly for paying nearly 100% of the nights.

Hotel/Hostel/Lodging: $0 (-100%)

Boom! Part of the uptick in campground fees was the fact that we didn’t stay anywhere outside of the RV this month. Honestly, I expect this to be the norm moving forward (we may stay at a special place once every couple of months).

Propane: $0 (-100%)

Boom, boom! I actually couldn’t believe we didn’t have any propane, but in the nicer weather we only use it for cooking. To be fair, we filled up at the end of February – and are in desperate need of another refill here in early April. :-)

Tolls/Parking: $10 (+79%)

I don’t remember exactly where we had to splurge for parking (or tolls), but I’m not disappointed at only $5-10/month.

Repairs: $ 90.66 (-75%)

After back-to-back months of multiple small repairs, I’m happy to report we had only one minor problem this month.

Somehow the wiring that runs our propane became loose (or rusted) and quit operating the emergency panel that monitors propane. When this happens, the system effectively shuts down propane use (just in case there is a leak).

Good news, there was no leak – and we found the problem.  Bad news, the repair technician charges $90.66. :-)

Once again, I’m not too disappointed in our RV expenses this month. Gas and campground fees notched up a bit, but the others fell as expected.

*****

As always, I’m willing to tackle any questions you may have in the comments below.

I’m excited to have you along for the ride – and to have a community where I can share so openly.

Xoxoxo,

-Baker

photo by gustaffo89

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Melanie @TravelToast.com April 4, 2011 at 1:26 PM

Wow, impressive!

I *almost* wish we had some debt so we could join your program. I remember the feeling, though, back in college. I had some credit card debt and worked two jobs to pay it off. (Doing taxes for Jackson Hewitt in the evenings.)

I hope you help a ton of people to break out of the debt-prison!

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Baker April 4, 2011 at 2:56 PM

Haha, thanks Melanie – but don’t wish yourself into debt! :-)

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Melanie @TravelToast.com April 6, 2011 at 7:50 PM

Nope, been there done that. Got the minimum payments with 17% interest to prove it. I took a second job in college to pay it all off. Haven’t been in debt since. It helps that I married a miser. ;)

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Eric May 2, 2011 at 6:56 AM

haha, I agree. Never, EVER, EVER, (did I say ever?), wish yourself into debt. Unless you’d like to take over my debt?

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Dan April 4, 2011 at 2:25 PM

Congrats, Baker. Looking forward to seeing how You vs. Debt will come along. While I don’t think it will impact many bloggers (who already read their fair share of money blogs), if you can tap into the mainstream you will no doubt find a huge potential here. Have you looked into preparing other forms of advertising for launch (i.e. newspaper or tv appearances) to reach into this market? Just wasn’t sure. Good luck, we’re behind you all the way!

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Baker April 4, 2011 at 2:57 PM

Thanks, Dan – we will evolve it slowly, but eventually I want it to help as many people as possible (“mainstream” is a possibility).

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Micah April 4, 2011 at 2:33 PM

You mentioned in a tweet you are trying to quit fast food. What has the monthly fast food expenses looked like on this trip? I can imagine it really adds up.

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Baker April 4, 2011 at 2:58 PM

Not sure exactly, but counting coffee and “business” lunches – It would be at least $300-400 bucks. It’s a big area we’ll be focusing on cutting by 75% or so (even on the road). :-)

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Radman April 4, 2011 at 2:45 PM

Wow – thanks for the insight. Glad to see the RV costs included this time. I’m curious as to how many days (cost /night) you stayed in the RV for a rounded cost and how many miles (cost/mile). It would be nice to compare to other alternatives (i.e. class C, 5 star hotel etc.).
Thanks again for posting,

Radman

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Jenna April 4, 2011 at 3:19 PM

Thanks for doing all those RV tours at SXSW! Loved meeting you and your family. Can’t wait to how successful You vs. Debt is!

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Kimberly April 4, 2011 at 3:47 PM

Love the new look & looking forward to the new & exciting You vs. Debt course. I think it’s totally awesome that you are doing what you love!

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Alex April 4, 2011 at 4:50 PM

What plugin are you using for the Current Hits,Best Of, Most Comments, Topics Widget?

Thanks in advance!

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Baker April 4, 2011 at 6:05 PM

It was custom designed by Norcross. Check out http://andrewnorcross.com for his info. :-)

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Gordon April 4, 2011 at 4:52 PM

You generated $10,000 from advertising/sponsorship however, I don’t see many ads on your site. How do you generate that money?

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Baker April 4, 2011 at 6:07 PM

Hey Gordon, I have advertising/sponsorship opportunities coordinated around our RV tour. I have deals negotiated directly with vendor(s) which don’t follow the traditional model. :-)

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Hunter April 4, 2011 at 5:20 PM

Thanks for the insight into your personal finances. I’ve been following your site a for just a few weeks and look foward to more.

I have an idea for your consulting. Maybe you use this strategy already. I recently read a book titled Value-Based Fees, by Alan Weiss. He has a very different perspective on fees and extensively uses retainers. For example, if you contract your services to a client for a month, year, whatever, they can contact you at any time to ask questions, get your opinion, etc. It’s a different way to add value as opposed to the fee for service approach.

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Baker April 4, 2011 at 6:08 PM

Funny you should mention that, Hunter – it’s the model I’m actually switching to! :-)

In the future, I’ll have a 2-hour one-time option and the rest will be on retainer basis!

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Hunter April 6, 2011 at 2:36 PM

Great. Yeah, some people say Alan Weiss is a little arrogant, but I really enjoy his ideas and straighforward perspective. He’s a straight shooter, as they say.

There’s a lot of upside to retainer based consulting. I look forward to learning about your experience with this approach.

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Max Bronson April 4, 2011 at 5:42 PM

Hi, Baker,
I’m happy to see you’re able to stay in the RV without having to lodge in motels now. That’s awesome that you’ve adapted so well to that kind of lifestyle. How long do you plan to be on the road for?

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Baker April 4, 2011 at 6:08 PM

Not sure!

At least through October, but we are keeping our options open! :-)

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Ralph Kooi April 4, 2011 at 7:59 PM

Hi Baker,

Why do you have Mailchimp and Aweber??
I’ve tried to set up Mailchimp but got nowhere… Aweber is the thing I need to go for but don’t want to spend the money just yet.

Good luck!

Ralph

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Baker April 5, 2011 at 1:10 PM

We were testing. I’ve always used Aweber for my main list – but we were testing out Mail for side project – such as You Vs. Debt.

I’m actually preferring Mailchimp these days. May switch it all over! :-)

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Jason from Socialcheap.com April 4, 2011 at 9:46 PM

Baker,
I know that gas prices are hurting me… I can’t imagine what you pay each time you stop at the gas tank with your RV though!

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Baker April 5, 2011 at 1:11 PM

We usually stop at 1/4 a tank. To fill up 3/4 of the tank it’s between $160-180! :-)

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Matt April 5, 2011 at 8:44 AM

Thanks a lot guys for sharing finances and trying to stop this taboo image. This is really insightful and great for those of us just beginning blogging to see the potential.

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Emily April 5, 2011 at 11:16 AM

Yet even though you have so much in business expenses, you still are netting a very nice income. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how many Internet Marketers go into debt trying to make money.

Excellent example, you are! Keep on keepin’ on! :)

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Baker April 5, 2011 at 1:12 PM

Thanks, Emily. I’m not the most frugal business person in the world (I place high-value on testing new things out) – but we also are careful to avoid going into debt for business! :-)

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Casey Friday April 5, 2011 at 12:12 PM

Wow – so are you putting that $7667.03 towards your student loans? I don’t see them anywhere on this list. How is the debt repayment going? Your “Our Finances” page hasn’t been updated since January, so I’m curious if you still have $48k in student loan debt.

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Baker April 5, 2011 at 1:14 PM

Casey, I plan on trying to update that soon! :-)

As you can see, last month we had a net of $500. This month was $7,600. So we don’t automatically put all our income on our student loans.

In addition to the RV expenses you saw, we have a few other minor living expenses. My income is our only income – so what I make first pays for our lifestyle that we’ve chosen. :-)

Since January, we have *not* put any extra on our student loans – choosing to invest $1000′s back into the business and ensure we have an emergency fund that’s nice and padded.

The next few months should be decent – at which point – we’ll be throwing extra large chunks at the loans!

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MutantSuperModel April 6, 2011 at 7:09 PM

I’m curious about the You v Debt project. I actually just finished venting my frustrations about this freaking tricky path to debt elimination and how I find it hard to find someone or something I can REALLY relate to with some advice that REALLY helps me because my particular situation (single mom, three kids, uneven child support) is not one that’s much touched upon. Lots of expenses are unique to single parents and lots of ways of increasing income or decreasing expenses are not available because one person can’t be in two places at one time (ie with kids and elsewhere). I take what I can from what sources I can but yeah, it’s frustrating for sure.

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Melanie @TravelToast.com April 6, 2011 at 7:55 PM

Just read your comment and I really feel for your situation. My husband and I have counseled lots of friends and family on money issues. The biggest part of paying off debt (and preventing new debt from accumulating) is to live below your means as much as possible. It takes “grit” to do this in a way that really makes a dent in your bills… and there are many ways most people don’t immediately think of. Email me if you want some ideas. All the best to you and your kids.

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Catie April 9, 2011 at 2:05 PM

Hi Baker!!!
I’ve asked before- possibly a few times (?), but I am soooo curious what you do about health insurance? Everyone I know who pays for their own health insurance pays over $1000/month but you’ve said you only have a few “minor” expenses outside of the RV stuff so I am totally curious! We’d love to take some time off for longer term travel but our daughter has a preexisting condition and I have no idea where to start looking for affordable health insurance options… Please please please either do a post or include this info in next month’s summary of your expenses!

Thanks! Catie.

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Deborah April 10, 2011 at 4:54 PM

Just stumbled onto your website from Rowdy Kittens and wanted to let you know as a person in the mid-50′s I find it helpful, interesting and so wishing we had more of these around when I was younger. Your are doing a great thing and I’m happy to pass this website address on to all my friends and family. Wish I had found out about all this before you had left Texas..we live an hour from Austin. Happy Motoring and Thanks! Deborah

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Lisa April 15, 2011 at 10:06 AM

Hello. I just wanted to drop a note to say that by following the advice in “Sell Your Crap”, I donated enough excess junk to reduce our taxable income by $10K. That saved us $3K in income tax between federal and state. I’ve sold a couple hunded dollars worth of stuff, but the donations have been the biggest benefit for us. Thanks!

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Eric May 2, 2011 at 6:53 AM

Hey Baker, just wanted to swing by and say ‘hi’! New to the site and I love it so far. I’ve been an avid listener of Dave Ramsey too and I actually found your site through some googling. Hats off to you for all the accomplishments!

Keep on, keepin’ on!

Eric

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Christina June 2, 2011 at 10:41 AM

I did a lot of reading about debt management. What about the people who cannot find work and are unemployed? What about in these situations, where people had $10,000 saved up and needed to use it on paying bills (in my case now)? I’m not talking about debt bills either, because we don’t have any of that with the exception of a used car payment and student loans not “quite” yet in repayment (which, despite graduating with honors, somehow, I still needed them because I wasn’t lucky enough to get a scholarship).I mean, if you have zero income, nothing is going to get paid. That’s part of the problem with our society. If your credit isn’t so good everyone wants to assume it’s because you’re not responsible. Then you need decent credit to get a job. How are you supposed to get a job when noone gives you a chance, but you need the job to pay your rent and utilities, gas money, car insurance, etc. and in some people’s cases, fix their credit.You can’t do any of those things without a job. Then we are forgetting about a big class of people…the working class. I know people with college degrees who can’t get a job in their field. I know people without a college education who are so poor they qualify for public assistance while working a minimum wage job. People don’t ask to live that kind of lifestyle. I believe that websites like yours and philosophies like yours are really for a certain type of person…ie a middle class person with a decent job/income and who’se had the privilege of wracking up credit debt. Many people living in poverty or waiting in the unemployment line don’t have the privilege of even applying and getting approved for credit cards. Poor people aren’t privileged enough to accumulate debt because they can’t even get approved to begin with for credit because they don’t have a decent enough income or a verifiable credit history. So I guess maybe it would be helpful for a big bulk of our society if websites like yours specifically state that your ideas are meant for a specific population. Lucky for me my credit is improving. But it took years–I did have a credit card or two (insured) when I was a young single parent (single, because domestic violence would have killed me or my son had I not left). I was a part of the working poor class; when I was laid off and a full time student (as I’ve always been a full time student while working full time) I didn’t have money to pay my bills, and used the credit card because I didn’t get child support and needed diapers. The credit companies wanted to fight paying my minimum monthly balances despite the fact that I paid for that insurance coverage each month on time. So at one point in my early adulthood I did get into trouble, but, had I received child support and found something that paid more than $5.25 an hour I wouldn’t have been in that trouble to begin with. Unfortunately our society is composed of the have’s and have nots. Sadly, the have-nots are more often than not, a have-not through no fault of their own but rather a combination of social and economic factors. Some people just have a harder way to go, and life is still much easier for privileged white males. Women and people of color still earn less for the same job as Caucasian men. So, our society has a long way to go. But, I do give kudos to you for being able to take your family on a long road trip and being able to afford it (time, money).

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