Food Junkies Can Be Healthy Too! It Just Takes Some Work…

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Now that I’m a little bit older and wiser than I was in my twenties, I’m all too aware how easily I can become addicted to something. Luckily, I’ve never been addicted to anything dangerous, but food has always been a weakness of mine.

I don’t know if you guys have heard, but food is DELICIOUS. You should really try it sometime.

This has been a thing as far back as I can remember and though it’s gotten much better into my adulthood, I still have my struggles. It’s not so much the act of eating, but the experience of flavor. Salty, sweet, fatty, sour, rich FLAVOR.

Amirite?

That’s the messed up thing with taste as a sense: it usually involves ingestion. Seeing things doesn’t make you go blind (just don’t look directly at a solar eclipse). Smelling things doesn’t make you eventually… uh… uhhhhhhhh…

Anosmatic!

Google FTW.

Anyway, you know what I mean. Taste, you are an evil temptress.

A deliciously evil temptress.

Surprisingly if you don’t know me and unsurprisingly if you do recovering from a food addiction relapse is all about mental fortitude. Remember, this has been a thing since childhood for me so, yeah, old habits are hard to break and all that jazz. So because I’m in this mindset of attacking life 100% (I’m not into that whole more-than-100-percent thing that people sometimes use), I made up five, count’em, FIVE rules for myself to help make this a lifestyle.

  1. My primary beverages will be water and wine, not to be confused with turning water into wine. I don’t drink wine every day, but it’s something I do with my fiancé on our days together. I can throw tea in there as well, but anything outside of that will be relegated to once every couple of weeks. WWAD?
  2. Snack foods are a Friday only thing (for now). While my fiancé and I are apart, I’m keeping snacks to my favorite day that begins with an F.Yeah, not Father’s Day. Sorry, Dad, but it’s a close second. At least it’s not Frog Jumping Day. Only suckers celebrate that.It’ll probably be a different story once we’re living together, but for now, Fridays are our day so I don’t mind being a little reckless one day a week.
  3. I’m going to eat raw at least once a week. I’m not a big fan of eating raw because I love warm food, but this one shouldn’t be too tough.
  4. The only things I’ll buy that have more than three ingredients are bread, pasta, and my Friday snacks. Is there more to explain? No? Let’s move on.
  5. Meditation is key! At least it is for me. And although I don’t really meditate in the traditional sense as much as I used to, mindfulness will only help keep me on point.

You may have noticed I don’t have much of what many might call a “diet” on my list. That’s because diets are for chumps, y’all! I’m not trying to get über muscled up like I was some three or four years ago either. This is about health and balancing it with my infatuation with my mistress, flavor.

Sweet delicious flavor.

I firmly believe that body and mind are much like chaos and harmony in the sense that they are constantly in a state of flux. For many us, chaos and harmony appear to be at odds, but a high level view shows us they’re part of the same thing because you can’t have harmony without chaos and vice versa.

Side note: I hate when people say “vice-ah versa,” but apparently that’s some old school British English at work there so I don’t have a leg to stand on.

Er… on which to stand*

It’s tough for grammar junkies in these streets.

Anyway, I think mind and body are the same as well. Let’s call them our physical and non-physical selves, shall we? Some people have strong physical attributes such as good health, muscle mass, high metabolism, etc. Others have strong non-physical attributes like a sense of inner peace, determination, courageousness, etc. Tangible versus intangible.

Makes sense? Awesome!

Okay, the balance between harmony and chaos is somehow managed by our entire realities. The balance of body and mind is up to us as individuals.

Kind of. External factors come into play, but stick with me here.

If you have the means to properly take care of your mind and body, do it. Why not, right? I feel doing so is a large part of achieving personal balance. While I’m here on this earth, that’s the goal. I’m pretty sure I have the mental/non-physical side down; now it’s time to refocus on the body/physical.

What do you do to maintain or increase balance in your life? Let me know! Tips and insights are always welcome.

Let’s do this!

Peace out, party people.

Blogging When (Almost) No One Gives a S*** about What You Have to Say

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I’m a blogger. I kind of feel like that’s the writer version of an attractive woman saying she’s a model. I’ve seen models at church runway shows. On YouTube, of course, because I might just spontaneously combust should I dare step into the lord’s house. Sex before marriage is still a sin, right?

Anywho, I started blogging back in May of last year, but I slacked immensely when it came to effort. I would basically post something once every two weeks, which means I was more of a guy who had a blog as opposed to an actual blogger.

I don’t know what changed, but sometime in August, I went full gusto and began blogging (and in some cases, over-blogging) consistently. I had a schedule. I started podcasting. I had recurring posts. I had… a limited audience.

Well, what in the H, E, double hockey sticks is that about? Don’t get me wrong; I largely do this because I love it. Writing is a passion of mine and I don’t think that’ll ever change. But I can’t lie, it’s a bit disheartening to put a ton of effort into something that only a small number of people enjoy. I’m only peaking at 100 visits per day, for Pete’s sake.

One.

Hundred.

And that ain’t everyday, folks.

I’ve read a ton about how to create a successful blog and, truthfully, some of those tactics work. I know because I used them. However, I prefer writing about the things that I like to write about.

Duh.

So now I’m in a bit of a kerfuffle. How do I get people to pay attention to my posts about achieving world and inner peace as much as my posts about achieving financial freedom and food photography?

Huh? Were you waiting for me to answer my own question? I have no clue how to do it; I’ve only been blogging since August! Jeez, you people have such high expectations.

I believe in doing things smartly in order to grow, but I’m going to keep writing what I want to write. Sure, I want to build an audience, but it’s going to be on my terms. I was already doing this, but it’s time to loosen the shackles a little bit and toy with ideas I never executed due to self-imposed boundaries.

No more, I say, no more!

Whew, now that I have that out of my system, allow me to reintroduce myself. My name is Dre.

Lessons from a New Self-Earner: Learning about Investing

Photo Credit: OTA Photos
Photo Credit: OTA Photos

I love the internet, regardless about how much I complain about YouTube trolls and the constant influx of baby pictures on my Facebook stream. I love it because I can learn almost anything with the internet. I can also earn money using the internet. I met my fiance because of the internet. I released an album because of the internet.

I’m writing to you right now because of the internet.

Whenever I have a problem I can’t find myself, I watch videos. I read. I do as much as I can to absorb knowledge. For me, videos come first and if I have a thirst, I read. If you read this blog regularly, you already know I’m interested in data analysis. But I’m also interested in investing. The problem is, I didn’t actually know the real basics behind investing.

I look at things this way: capitalism is a game. It’s ruthless and the stakes are incredibly high, but it’s a game nonetheless. Well, every game has rules. To succeed in a game you, of course need to know the rules, but that’s not really enough. See, capitalism is full of unfair advantages. I can definitely delve into that further, but I’ll save it for another article.

Anyway, I have a problem: I want to get into investing, but I have some things working against me. I learned about the things working against me by watching an accessible video on investing: William Ackman: Everything You Need to Know About Finance and Investing in Under an Hour

Seriously. If you have an interest in investing, but have zero background, watch this video

That said, I’m not telling anyone to run out there and start dumping their money into stocks. I’m just saying I’m looking into dabbling in investing, but not before I have a nice lump of cash stashed away. In the meantime, I have a few questions while I continue to learn:

  1. How easy/difficult is it to earn $30K a year with investing. I’m not saying that’s what I’m trying to do (yet), but let’s just say I’m interested. Also, I realize this isn’t a simple question to ask, but curiosity has me nonetheless.
  2. How many people get into investing with an exit strategy in mind?
  3. I know investing is basically gambling (even gamblers have a strategy) so I should expect losses if I get into this. What is the baseline profit/loss ratio that makes continuing worth it in the short term. Obviously, net profit/loss is what matters, but assuming I’m profiting, is there a ratio of profit to loss that I should strive for as a baseline?

Anyway, I’m just starting out so don’t mind me if I sound like a noob. While my girlfriend and I are separated by a massive body of water, I’ll be teaching myself some new things. Check out my Dream Chasers series to find out more about my future plans that are not just income related. Also, if you have any questions or helpful advice, let me know! Let’s all win together!

Peace out, party people.

Previously: Tim Ferriss Clones and the BS of Capitalism

Lessons from a New Self-Earner: Finally Creating a Financial Plan (Part 2)

Photo Credit: Chris Potter
Photo Credit: Chris Potter

Putting a budget together sucks. Quite a way to begin a blog post,eh?

If you read part one of this piece, you know my current goal is to save $15000 (US) by July. This is a tall order for a guy who currently works part-time. I’ll go back to fulltime work if a worthwhile gig comes along. But in the meantime, I need to focus on the minimum amount of income I need in order to achieve this goal. Last time, I came up with the following numbers:

Per Month Income Goal: $4150
Per Day Income Goal: $135.50 ($150 in Feb, $140 for 30-day months)

Remember, this takes saving and bills into account. Honestly, I feel like this could be much worse. It’s by no means simple (I’m essentially starting my life over from scratch), but I’m confident I can swing this if I keep my head in the game.

Right now I make about $47 a day in part-time work. While I’ve applied this over the course of seven days, I’m actually only working about 20 hours a week. Also, I tend to make more because I log out late some days, but I don’t want to rely on that. I need to know what I’m guaranteed. I don’t know what works for you, but if some amount of money isn’t a sure thing (or a close approximation), I see no good reason to track it. It’s simply a bonus.

Like when you randomly find a 20 dollar bill in your coat pocket.

So I’m a bit more of 1/3 of the way there (depending on the month).

Awesome.

Sort of.

This puts me in a bit of a quandary. Either I need to get that fulltime job I’ve been avoiding or I need to simply earn more money. Truth be told, I became a bit spoiled over the last few months as time is a much better motivation for me than money. Earning more is awesome, but if I go that route, I want to ensure it’s an ideal situation for me. I’m not trying to be stressed out of my mind all day then take my work home so I can continue that feeling all night.

Been there, done that.

So I need to make up the rest of it with freelance work unless anything changes. This is where things get tricky.

I make my side moola freelance writing or editing. Recently I landed a somewhat steady editing gig, but I’m not getting any more than $55 a week from them. In this case, steady definitely doesn’t mean a lot of hours.Either way, let’s just reduce this to $30 a week because that $55 isn’t guaranteed. Per day, that’s about $4.29. Not much but it gets me over $50 a day.

Side note: I realize this is going to be a ballgame with a ton of singles and doubles. So be it. I should have been better at this months ago, but life (or in my case, love) became a higher priority than making money.

Yes, it’s actually true.

But with my fiancé stuck in Sweden until we have that K1 visa, I don’t mind putting forth some extra effort to reach this goal.

Anyway, if we’re talking about February, I need to make about $98 more per day to hit my goal. Actually, let’s just go with $150 per day as a nice, round goal. I realize this is totally stream of conscious and I should probably just update what I wrote before, but I’m lazy as all sin right now. Deal with it.

Most content writing gigs offer crap for pay and, quite frankly, are not worth my time. Some of them are decent if I need money in a pinch, but most of them demand a lot of effort with marginal returns. Next week I’ll dive into freelance writing more and what I’m doing to increase my odds of landing better paying gigs. But for now, let’s finish up the rest of this budget.

While income is a significant part of tracking finances, I would argue spending is far more crucial. That’s because any money that is earned will ALWAYS help. Spending, on the other hand, hinders monetary growth unless its an investment in something else that will generate revenue.

Luckily, getting laid off curtailed my loosey-goosey spending habits big time. All I need is food, honestly. I’m basically in stasis until my fiancé and I are back together. It sounds horrible, but I’m fine with limiting my outings, only spending when I end up exceeding my daily goal consistently. One or two days aren’t a green light to loosen up those purse strings.

January will end up being a proof of concept month. I will be tracking ALL of my spending. This way I’ll have a concrete idea of where money is going and where I can cut corners sans any negative repercussions. Here’s what I can estimate at the very least:

  • $25 a week on groceries (very doable living alone and being a vegetarian)
  • $5 a week on public transportation (I’m still debating selling my car. Right now it’s not on the road so I don’t have to pay for insurance)
  • $50 every two weeks miscellaneous spending

This is a strict budget. As you can see, I’m keeping it pretty minimal as I’m not factoring in much. This is because I don’t need much. This savings goal is more important than stuff I want to buy so I may as well act like it.

Okay, folks; that’s it for now. Join me next week when I start talking about things you can do to help snag more writing gigs (this should be appropriate for other types of freelance work too). I hope your journey is as exciting as mine and, as always, hit me up in the comments if you have any tip or feedback of your own!

Peace out, party people.

Previously: Finally Creating a Financial Plan (Part 1)

Lessons from a New Self-Earner: Finally Creating a Financial Plan (Part 1)

Photo Credit: Alan Cleaver
Photo Credit: Alan Cleaver

I spent a lot of days hiding out and carb-loading ever since my girlfriend’s visa expired. It’s been a week now so I figured it’s time to emerge from my one-man pity party and start working toward my and my fiance’s dream. I’ll talk a little bit about that dream next, but the weekly tracking of making this happen will be in a series I’m starting called The Dream Chaser Project (every Wednesday at 11am).

So without further ado…

The Mission: Save $15K by July
Problems: School loans, various bills
Temporary Problems: Current rent,

There have been times in my life when I started something without a goal in mind. For example, I could just say I want to start saving money, but I’m not actually working toward anything. Here, I’ve set a goal, albeit a challenging one given I’m currently only working part-time

Whatever. I’m up for the challenge.

First things first, I’m moving in with family starting in February. That means I won’t have to worry about regular rent after January. Outside of that, my biggest expense is my school loans. So let’s break this down a bit. If I were to start on my goal in February, this is where I stand:

Goal: $15000
Loans and Other Bills (Per Month): $1500
Other Monthly Expenses: $150

Alright, so let’s figure out how much I need to earn per day and month:

Per Month Income Goal: $4150 (Let’s just round that up to $4200)
Per Day Income Goal: $135.50 ($150 in Feb, $140 for 30-day months)

I can totally do this with a regular full-time job, but I’m only going that route if I have to. Otherwise, I’m shooting for this with part-time, freelance, or remote work. Additionally, my fiance and I want to either travel while working or simply live outside of the US for a while. Because of this, I can also sell a bunch of belongings because, you know, stuff just weighs people down. I’m trying to keep it lightweight.

Lastly, there are two general rules I’m going to follow (more will be added as I follow this):

  1. I will not adjust my daily/monthly goals regardless if I exceed them or if I come up short. I need this data so I can adjust how I move forward in the future.
  2. ALL spending will be tracked. My other monthly expenses are just an estimate. I have no clue what they will be once I move home. I know that I’ll be going out much less only because my focus is to save.

So this is just the beginning. I’ll be giving more details as to my plan and different suggestions from various sources. I know this is “Lessons from a New Self-Earner,” so here’s the lesson I learned:

I’ve made it through life never planning anything when it comes to money. Some may see that as bad to admit, but it is what it is. I’m not here for anyone’s approval. Now, however, I know the life I want. Saving this money is a priority, but to be honest, this is a study on how I can earn money remotely with as little stress as possible. I have no idea if I’ll be able to do this without some sacrifices, but I’m more than down to try.

Let the games begin.

Peace out, party people.

Previously: Admitting When You Need a Helping Hand

Lessons from a New Self-Earner: Admitting When You Need a Helping Hand

marsellus wallace

Man oh man, my life is in a big transitional phase, folks. My girlfriend and I did a lot of talking last week and we decided a couple things:

  1. We’re applying for a fiance visa so we can get married next year.
  2. We’re moving the eff out of the US as soon as possible.

Not that I dislike America, but if we can have a life more suitable for us in another country, why not?

The thing with a fiance visa is it can take five to eight months for approval.

Ugh.

Then my girlfriend (and parents) made an excellent point. If our ultimate plan is to move elsewhere and start a life together, why are we going to spend money on separate apartments while we wait up to eight months (if all goes well) for a piece of paper that says we can get married. Wouldn’t it be smarter to save money in the meantime? I’m taking the opportunity to do just that.

In February, I’m going to do something I thought I’d never do in a million years (or however long I’ll be alive): I’m moving back in with my parents.

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

As I’ve said before, being a self-earner can be rough. It also didn’t help that I slacked off SIGNIFICANTLY over the last three months while my girlfriend has been here (not that I minded at all). But now it’s time to refocus.

My goal in making money is NOT to be rich. I don’t give a damn about wealth. I care more about living a worry-free life. That’s wealth to me. Is it possible? Yo no se (or ‘I don’t know’ for los Americanos out there). Here’s the thing: for the last three months, I discovered what I want the rest of my life to be. I’m not trying to kill myself and waste life by giving my time to other people/things. I know what my priorities are and they don’t involve fancy cars and designer shoes.

So I’m moving back home and I’ll be moving out as soon as my girl gets her visa. In the meantime, you better believe I’ll be saving money like a madman and using our time apart to earn as much money as possible.

I know this isn’t really a tip or suggestion, but still, it’s a lesson I had to learn. I had to learn to be alright with accepting help from my family to attain a more significant goal. I have a lot of pride and I am more than willing to struggle in order to achieve something on my own merits. That’s stupid and inefficient. My school loans are expensive as hell and paying rent and utilities doesn’t help matters. Sure, I can do it, but it doesn’t get me to my goal any more quickly. It just makes the journey unnecessarily harder.

So let’s be zen about this and take the path of least resistance. My pride is nowhere near as important as my future with my girlfriend/fiance. I don’t know if you can take anything from this post, but if you do, just know that you aren’t the only one who has that pride. Let it go. And once you get that help from someone, do your damnedest to make the most out of the opportunity.

Peace out, party people.

Previously: The Highs and Lows of Online Freelancing (Part 2)

Lessons from a New Self-Earner: The Highs and Lows of Online Freelancing (Part 2)

Photo Credit: Jeremy Lim
Photo Credit: Jeremy Lim

When I first started writing part one of this post, I really had freelance writing in mind. Very limited, right? Especially when writing isn’t where the money is. Not in comparison to other types of freelance gigs anyway. If you’re like me, you probably go for freelance writing gigs because they’re either what you love or what you do best. Maybe both. But it never hurts to have options.

According to Business Insider, these are the top ten highest paying freelance jobs on Elance and oDesk (by hourly rate):

  1. Patent Law ($112.20)
  2. Voice Acting ($72.70)
  3. Ruby Programming ($61.00)
  4. Startup Consulting ($54.00)
  5. Google Website Optimizer ($53.80)
  6. Investment Research ($53.20)
  7. Network Administration ($51.10)
  8. Statistical Analysis ($49.60)
  9. Amazon Web Services ($49.40)
  10. Legal Writing ($49.20)

Glad to see some form of writing made it into the top ten. Some other interesting ones are Database Development ($47.60), User Experience Design ($43.68), and Mobile App Testing ($32.90). I’m personally shooting for some mobile app testing and Ruby programming gigs, though I have to learn more for the latter.

So where do the writers out there stand? Craigslist, Elance, and the glut of content farm organizations would have you believe writing doesn’t pay squat. That’s true for those who are unwilling to dig deeper. That’s what we’ll explore next week. For now, explore other options! I believe everyone should follow their passion if at all possible, but if your goal is to make money, you have multiple paths as a freelancer. For example, my girlfriend’s visa expires in two weeks. I haven’t been on top of my game in terms of generating income while she’s been here so you better believe I’ll be busting my hump to earn as much as I can while I eagerly await her return.

Wish me luck.

Peace out, party people.

Previously: The Highs and Lows of Online Freelancing (Part 1)