I realized that I haven't posted here since the end of the year. Where has the time gone?
So to update....
2015 is off to a solid start with my medical surveys.
April promises to be a good month as I'm already at $610 as of today and it's only the 8th. So I should definitely break $1,000 again.
In other news, we've had an expensive few months. We replaced our refrigerator in January. A few days later, our heater died. That (the heater) cost us $4,000 plus a couple of nights in a hotel. The fridge was about $1,200 I think. Replacing the heater also led to replacing the AC, which we just did the other day, for another $3,000.
In the good news department, I was dreading filing our 2014 taxes because a couple of our taxable mutual funds paid out large capital gains distributions (like $20,000 worth). So I was expecting a 4-5K tax bill. As it turned out, thanks to some other stuff, like the college tax credit, we actually ended up breaking even, getting a small ($95) refund. That was a big relief.
I've been making more use of some online savings, specifically promo codes at sites like retailmenot.com and discounted gift cards at sites like cardpool.com and giftcards.com. We saved almost $100 on the fridge, $30 on a trip to the local aquarium, and $66 on a new suitcase for DD recently.
So that kind of sums up the recent stuff.
Viewing the 'Personal Finance' Category
I realized that I haven't posted here since the end of the year. Where has the time gone?
For the month of December, I earned $1,072 from my medical surveys, so a good month to end the year.
That brought my grand total for 2014 to $10,879.50. I met and exceeded my goal of 10K. I'm very satisfied with that.
I'll keep the same goal again as there isn't a whole lot I can do to boost this number. I just need to keep doing as many of the survey opportunities as I can.
For the month of November, I earned $692 from the medical surveys that I do. That was below the average I'm shooting for but I've had several above average months so it balances out. In fact, as of today (12/6), I have topped my goal for the year of $10,000 so it's all good.
For the month, I earned $956 from my medical surveys making it the 3rd best month of the year so far. Not bad at all. Brings my total to $9,115.50 with 2 months left to the year so I should certainly be able to hit my goal of $10,000.
My medical survey income for September was $654. Below the monthly average I'm shooting for ($833) but I expected that since we were on vacation for 2 weeks in August. At least it was nicely balanced by the record earnings in August.
Recap: I'm a family practice physician and get to do a lot of medical market research surveys, opinion polls, etc. These are not available to the general public.
My survey income for July was $894 bringing me to $6,065 for the year. My goal for the year is $10,000 meaning I need to average $787/month for the remaining 5 months which shouldn't be a problem at all since I've averaged $866/month so far so I'm right on track.
As expected, my total was down for June as I had been pretty busy with other obligations. For the months, I earned $762. That still has me on track for my goal of $10,000 for the year. The second half of the year should be easier as I have finished my term as president of our temple which is what was sucking up so much of my time.
I've managed to stay on track, despite being very busy with both work and volunteer obligations. For the month of May, I earned $906.50 from surveys which is on pace for my $10,000/year goal ($833/month average).
I feel like I haven't been doing as many lately so we'll see how June turns out.
Quick recap: I'm a family practice physician. In addition to my regular job, I spend a lot of time doing market research surveys, focus groups, opinion polls, etc. This serves as a decent side income for me.
I had a great month in April earning $1,344 making it one of my best months ever - probably in the top 5.
I know I've slacked off just a bit the past couple of weeks but I don't think it will impact the total too much for May as I also had the opportunity to do a couple of high-paying surveys including a $500 one that I did recently and should get paid for in May. Time will tell.
For the newbies, I'm a physician and get to do a lot of medical market research surveys. These are not available to the general public. Most are done online. A few are done by phone and occasionally they are done in person.
For the month of March 2014, I earned $773. That's slightly below my goal of $800/month but I'm good with that. The number I report here in my blog each month is the amount actually received. It is not the amount generated. There are a few survey companies that don't send payment each time a survey is done. Instead, they add money or points to an online account that I can then cash out at my convenience. So I know I actually earned more this month that I haven't "claimed" yet and I dont' count it until it is actually in my hands.
For the newbies, I'm a family practice physician and do a lot of medical market research surveys as a side income. My goal is to earn $10,000 for the year by doing this.
For February, I earned $844. I was happy with that as it's right around the average I need to reach my goal.
Kind of a disappointing start to the year. My survey income for the month was $542, well below the $800 I'm hoping to average. Between the holidays and being out of town for 5 days in mid-December and being really busy both at work and with my synagogue responsibilities, I just got off track and didn't keep up with all of the invitations.
Things are settling down a bit and the past couple of weeks I've been trying to get back in the groove so I'm hoping February will be better. I also have a telephone interview scheduled that will pay me $225 I think so if that payment comes in February that will help a lot.
For the newcomers:
I'm a family practice physician and get to do a lot of medical market research surveys. This provides a side income for me and, in recent months, has helped replace some lost income from my wife leaving the work force.
For the month of December, I earned $1,051 making it the 3rd best month of the year and bringing my 2013 total to $10,047.
As you can see on the sidebar, my goal for the year was $8,000 so I blew past that but that goal was set before my wife stopped working. Once she stopped, I raised my target. From January to May, I averaged $608/month. Since June, my monthly average has gone up to $1,001. I don't know that that is a sustainable number, though, because November included a one-time opportunity that paid me $475. Those types of payments are rare but it skewed the average. So for 2014, I think a goal of $10,000, same as this year, is a good target for me. That would mean averaging $833/month. I'd be happy with that.
I see a number of people starting to post their 2014 financial goals. This isn't really something I think about to any great extent (and I think I've had a post just like this each year at this time).
As always, I want to max our Roths. That got a little more difficult in 2013 when DW turned 50 and gets even harder in 2014 when I turn 50. The good news is that instead of saving $11,000, we can now save $13,000.
I want to continue focusing on my medical survey income and maintain a monthly average of at least $800, so $9,600 for the year will be the goal there.
I'd like to help push my wife to monetize her sewing and quilting activity more. She has sold numerous items - probably at least 40-50 individual items this year - but just through word of mouth to a handful of friends. I'd really like to see her start doing some craft shows and bazaars and selling to the public.
2014 will bring some significant financial changes and challenges too. Our DD just recently got her license and we added her to our insurance this month. That will increase our bill by about $120/month so that's one hit. Three years ago, our synagogue had a one-time offer to prepay dues for 3 years. It gave them a short term influx of cash and gave those of us who took advantage of it the opportunity to miss 2 years of dues increases. We were one of the families that took that option, but we're in year 3 so in July, we need to start paying dues again. The slight advantage is that we will drop to a lower dues category since DD will be out of school but it still comes to over $150/month (I don't know the exact amount yet as the budget hasn't been written).
The final BIG hit for 2014 is that DD will be starting college in the fall. That will obviously bring a major change to our financial lives. We have enough in her 529 to cover all of one year one and probably almost all of year two but once we get an idea of actual spending, we need to firm up the plans for years 3 and 4. From my calculations, we are in good shape to cash flow the rest including DD's own contributions from her income. I also suspect (but am not counting on) there will be a significant monetary gift from grandmom.
So that's where things are right now. It will be an interesting year financially-speaking for sure.
I usually just give a quick review but let me give a little more detail again for those who haven't been following along. I'm a physician and in addition to my practice, I do a lot - and I do mean a lot - of medical surveys, market research, focus groups, etc. as a way to make some extra money. The past couple of years, I was pretty consistenly averaging about $600/month doing this. Then in May of this year, my wife left her job and has been at home since then. I set out to replace as much of her income as possible by stepping up my survey business. My goal was to bring in at least an additional $200/month ($800/month total). As you can see on the sidebar, I've done a good job. Starting in June, my average has actually been just over $900/month.
For the month of November, I knew my total would be good. As I posted last month, I had the opportunity to do a few particularly lucrative programs in October so I knew that income would come in this month.
So for November, I earned $1,444 making it my best month of the year and bringing my 6 month average to $992.67. That brings my total YTD to $8,996. My goal for the entire year was $8,000 so I'm already about $1,000 beyond that and still have one month left to go. Sometimes it is tough to keep up with all of the surveys but seeing these numbers really helps keep me motivated.
Those who follow know my story. I'm a physician and do a lot of market research surveys as a 2nd income. I post the results every month. I actually work for a lot of different companies in the course of doing this. When I say a lot, I mean in the 25-30 range, so it can sometimes be hard to keep track of it all.
This morning, I logged into one site. I had done a survey for them last night and noticed that I was eligible for another so I went on to see if I could do it. I screened out but while there I checked my earnings history.
Much to my surprise, it showed that I had a balance of $330 in my account. This company used to automatically pay any earnings to my Paypal account. Apparently, they stopped doing that at the beginning of September. Now, the earnings accumulate in my account and I can go in and collect them in various ways - requesting a check, a prepaid Visa card, an Amazon credit, or shopping from a merchandise catalog.
There are some benefits (which I'm not entirely clear on - I need to read the details) of keeping a $100 balance in the account so I put in a request to be sent a $230 check. It should come in about 2 weeks, so that will give my December income number a nice little boost. From now on, I'll certainly remember to pay more attention to this particular company site. No reason to let them hold so much of my money.
To recap, I am a family practice physician. I get to do a lot of medical market research studies and surveys and it provides a nice side income. My goal for the year is $8,000.
For the month of October, I collected $897 from survey payments which was great. My goal has been $800/month since June and my average for June-October has been
$902.40 so I'm ahead of that. November should be a very good month. I did 3 large studies in October and those payments should come in this month ($425, $175, $175) along with all of the usual stuff.
Happy October everyone!
Another month down. As expected, my survey income was down a bit because we were on vacation for 12 days in August so I missed some opportunities. Despite that, I still managed to earn $745 which isn't bad at all considering.
My goal is to average at least $800/month from June 1 on to help make up for the fact that my wife is no longer working. So for the past 4 months, my average has been $903.75.
I'm hoping October will be a great month. I'm scheduled to do a 3-hour in-person research study this Friday for which I'm earning $425 so that will give me a huge boost this month.
Just to review, I'm a physician and get to do a lot of market research surveys and focus groups online, via webcam, and occasionally in person. This serves as a reasonable source of income, especially when I keep my butt in gear and do them regularly.
At the end of May, my wife left her job and has been at home full time since then. I decided then that I needed to step up my game and increase my survey income to try and compensate for the loss of her income. She was putting 50% into her 401k, which I can't replace, but she was also bringing home about $385/month. That's what I needed to make up for - the money that we actually got for spending.
For the first 5 months of the year, my average monthly survey income was $608 which is pretty typical for what I've earned doing this.
As I've posted previously, in June I earned $739, so a bit over the average. In July, I was up to $799. I figured $800/month was achievable so made that my goal.
For the month of August, I earned $1,332!!!
That made it the best month of the year by over $500. It gave me a monthly average over the 3 months since she stopped working of a little over $956. I don't think I can sustain that kind of income but even a couple of months like that really boost the average for the year so I'm very happy with that.
September may be a little light because we were on vacation for 12 days. I did do a few surveys while we were away but not as many as usual. Still, I have a couple of webcam programs scheduled so we'll see how it turns out. For now, I'm very optimistic.
I've continued my quest to replace as much of my wife's income as possible by doing more medical surveys (I'm a physician). For the month of July, I earned $799 making it my 2nd best month of the year. I was a little annoyed that I just missed the $800 mark but that's fine. My goal is to average $800/month from now on so I'm right on track.
We just got back from a week visiting a few colleges for our daughter who is a rising high school senior. Someone asked about it in another post on an unrelated topic but I thought I'd talk about it here in case others are interested.
Our daughter is interested in studying mechanical engineering. Prior to this week, we had attended an engineering open house at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in November and a general open house at Univ. of Virginia in April. She fell in love with RIT and it went right to #1 on her list. She didn't care for U. of VA and that got crossed off. It's just as important to know where you don't want to go so we were good with that.
This past week had us checking out 2 new schools and a return visit to RIT. We started in Troy, NY at Rensselaer Polytech. Great school, nice campus, but we just didn't feel it was a good fit. Kind of stuffy. Next was Univ. of Rochester. I knew nothing about the school and I was really blown away. Beautiful campus, great program, staff and students we interacted with were all very down to earth, friendly, had great senses of humor, and were clearly passionate about the school. DD didn't go into that visit expecting much and came away really liking it so it is staying on the list for sure.
Finally, it was back to RIT. Thursday and Friday was for a Woman in Engineering program and the Friday and Saturday was a College and Careers program (which also included an overnight stay in the dorms). There were parts of the programs that she found somewhat boring but overall, the 3 days there just cemented her love of the school and desire to go there.
There are still other schools on her list: Rutgers, Rowan, Lehigh, and more, but I doubt any will displace RIT from the top spot. Now we just have to hope she gets accepted - and figure out how to pay for it.
My wife had a 2000 Toyota Sienna that we bought used in 2002 after she wrecked the previous one. So we've had it just short of 11 years. It had 155,000 miles on it so we had certainly gotten our money's worth but it was starting to get costly to maintain so it was time to replace it.
We've been browsing online for about a month and not really finding a whole lot out there. Lots of 2011 and 2012 models but virtually nothing from 2008-2010. I was hoping to find something 3-4 years old as that is usually the sweet spot for price, condition, and mileage, but it just wasn't to be.
We decided to go exploring in person on Saturday and headed to one local Toyota dealer. They had 2 Siennas on the lot. One was silver so that was out (we won't buy white, black, silver, or gold). They also had one blue van - a 2011 LE. We took a look at it, took it out for a spin, went over some numbers, negotiated them down as best we could, and decided to take the plunge and buy it. We paid about 22K which was little more than I had hoped to spend had we been able to find a 2010 or 2009, but it was a reasonable price for a 2011 and it is in great shape. It has a lot of features that our older van didn't, like Bluetooth, reverse camera, DVD player, back windows that lower, 2 power doors, fold flat back seats (so I don't have to haul them out anymore), etc. Definitely an upgrade. Since we keep our cars for the long haul, it will be nice to have for the next 10 years.
We'll be hitting the road with it in about 2 weeks for a college visitation tour and then driving it to Florida next month so we'll get it all broken in.
As I reported last month, my wife recently left her job and my goal is to up my survey income to at least partly make up for the loss of her income. In late May, I got more focused on the surveys with the hope of increasing my monthly income by at least $200. There is a lag time of anywhere from a few days to 6 weeks between when I do a survey and when I get paid so I haven't fully seen the results of my efforts yet but it definitely made a difference.
For the month of June I earned $739 making it the second best month of the year. Not only that, but beginning the week of May 27, I also started tracking the surveys I do as I do them. For the past 4 weeks, I've done surveys that will pay me a total of $843. If things continue at that rate, July should be just fine. I would love to see my average for the remainder of the year be around $800/month as opposed to the $600/month I averaged for the first part of the year.
I posted this to the forum but I know some only hang out here and I think this is worth sharing.
Something possessed me to pull out my file of financial spreadsheets tonight. This file dates back to October 1992 when I had handwritten records that later transitioned to computer generated reports. At first, they were updated weekly, then monthly, then less often than that. Reviewing the numbers was like opening a financial time capsule of our lives.
These reports strictly tally our financial holdings - savings, checking, money market, stocks, and bonds (including mutual funds). It doesn't include other assets like our house, cars, etc. The reports also list our debts but I'll leave that part out of this post.
We were married on July 12, 1992.
The first report is from 10/15/92. Total assets = $8,195.21.
We first hit 5 figures on 2/14/93 with $10,098.46.
The next milestone was on 12/12/93 with $25,064.02.
We bought our house in spring of 1994 so on 5/1/94 we were back down to $11,720.47.
I finished residency and started in practice in July 1993.
By 12/12/93 we were back up to $32,502.16.
9/3/95 we broke 50K with $51,039.00.
5/17/98 we passed 100K with $104,912.72.
Then 150K on 12/31/99 with $152,896.84.
And 200K on 11/14/03 with $200,761.12.
300K came just over 2 years later on 2/10/06 with $300,096.47.
We peaked on 5/6/08 with $400,810.10.
Then came the crash.
On 12/31/08, we were down to $280,208.22.
But we didn't panic and run screaming for the exit.
We hung in there.
On 12/31/09, we were back up to $395,673.33.
We hit a new all time high soon after that despite the crash.
We topped 500K sometime in early 2012. I don't know exactly when.
But by 12/31/12, we were at $578,177.09.
And as of last week, we were at $634,130.87.
To add to the story, I also have a record of what % of income we were saving starting in 2001. I don't seem to have it recorded before then. The dates are when we upped the percentage.
5/01 - 10% of take home
1/02 - 12% of take home
1/03 - 12% of gross (all subsequent numbers are % of gross)
1/04 - 13%
1/05 - 16%
1/06 - 17%
7/07 - 18%
7/08 - 19%
1/09 - 20%
7/09 - 21%
7/10 - 22%
7/11 - 23%, which is where we remain today.
We started our lives together with next to nothing. Of that $8,000 in 10/92, a few thousand was from wedding presents and that was 3 months after we got married. The total was considerably lower on our wedding day. With careful spending and dedicated saving, our holdings have grown and grown through up markets and down markets, through debt repayment (over 100K in student loans for one thing), through buying our home, having a child, owning a few cars along the way, home repairs, medical bills, travel, parties, charitable giving, and everything else that life has brought us (or thrown at us). We've been able to steadily increase the percentage of income being set aside for savings from well below the recommended 15% of gross to well above it.
For those just starting out, don't get discouraged. Do what you can. Increase it as you are able. And just keep at it. Over time, it really does add up. Compounding is a wonderful thing.
Well my wife is officially unemployed. Her last day was May 30. I ran the numbers and her average monthly take home pay was $385. On top of that, a total (with match) of $480 was going into her 401k, so $865 total that we're down as a result.
We're addressing that in a few ways. We are tightening up the spending particularly in the area of groceries and dining out. We have typically averaged about $300/month eating out. For the past few weeks, we have cut that back significantly and have been doing a lot more cooking at home. For example, I used to go straight from my office to our synagogue on nights when I had meetings and I'd stop and pick up dinner on the way. Now, I've been stopping at home and getting dinner there instead so that probably costs $2-3 instead of $8-10 when I'd eat out.
We've also started using coupons which I haven't really been in the habit of doing for a while. It saves $2-3/week but it all counts and all adds up.
I've been more careful about where I buy gas and have been paying cash a lot more since many stations charge more for credit. I used to stick to stations that charged the same for cash or credit. The problem has become that those stations are charging more. So instead of $3.33 for cash and credit, I'm going to the station that is $3.27 for cash and $3.37 for credit and paying cash. Again, not a big savings but it's something.
The main thing I'm doing is really focusing on my survey participation. It's probably too soon to make a dependable prediction but I've started tracking my actual surveys done. Previously, I only tracked the money when it actually comes in.
For the week of May 27, I did $291 worth of surveys.
For the week of June 3, I did $210 worth of surveys.
For the week of June 10, I've done $185 worth of surveys and the week isn't over yet.
I also do an ongoing survey that pays me $150/month which works out to $34/week.
So for the past 3 weeks, that means I've generated a total of $788. That's a weekly average of $262.66. Multiplied out for a year, that's $13,659. I realize I can't really extrapolate based on less than 3 weeks of data but there is certainly a high probability that I will earn more in 2013 than I was shooting for originally (8K). At that rate, I could earn almost 8K just from June to December and I already took in $3,000 through March, so 10-11K for the year is certainly doable.
This also includes only online surveys. I regularly get invited to do in-person studies but don't usually get to them for scheduling reasons. I'm paying more attention to those and trying to find ones that I can work around to do. Even if I could only do one every 2-3 months, it could add another thousand or more to my total.
On my wife's end, she is doing the sewing/quilting thing and has already sold 20 or more items. A friend bought 9 $5 tote bags from her yesterday for teacher gifts plus a $60 patchwork beach bag for herself. Our neighbor bought an iPad cover for a gift and a Kindle cover for herself. And there have been numerous other sales so that's doing well so far.
I'll post at the end of the month with the monthly survey total as always. I'm at $322 so far so it should be good.
Quick recap: I'm a family practice physician and have the opportunity to participate in many medical market research surveys. Doing so provides me a decent second income. These are not available to the general public, though I also do some general surveys like Pinecone, Harris, and Opinion Place and earnings from those are included in my totals given here.
For the month of May, I earned $640. Not bad at all though a bit below what I'd like to average this year.
As I've reported previously, my wife just left her job (Thursday was her last day). One of my goals is to make up a chunk of her income by increasing my survey income. During May, particularly the second half of the month, I really stepped it up and responded to every single invitation I received. Of course, there were some that I screened out of, but I got to do a lot of them, more than I typically would. I'm very optimistic about June's income since there is a lag of a few weeks between doing a survey and getting paid. Most of that May activity will equal June income. Stay tuned.
I posted a bit about this on the forums. My wife has decided to leave her job for various reasons and will be done at the end of the month. She works part time, usually 3 days per week, and brings home about $385/month on average. That will put a little kink in the budget but what I'll miss even more is the $500+/month that was going into her 401k between her contribution and the employer match. In her 6 years on the job, she's built up about $40,000 in her 401k account.
I'm striving to replace a chunk of her take home pay by upping my game with the medical surveys that I do. As I've posted many times, I'm not always consistent with responding to the invitations and doing everything that comes my way. With this new motivation, I'm really committed to taking advantage of as many offers as I possibly can. So far this week, I've done 5 surveys that paid a total of $295.
Of course, the supply of surveys isn't consistent or linear at all so I can't expect to earn that much every week, but I figure if I stay on track, I should be able to up my average monthly survey income by about $200 which would cover more than half of her take home pay and some months maybe even more. Time will tell but that's the plan.
The other thing is that she has started sewing and quilting and has already sold several items. We are picking up her new (used) sewing machine tomorrow which will allow her to work much better and more efficiently so that she can really start ramping up what she makes. The goal is to start doing some craft shows, community yard sales, bazaars, etc. and have her bring in some money that way. We don't really have a prediction yet for that business. It will all depend on how involved she gets with hit. She can also start selling items online to broaden her audience.
The thought at the moment is that she'll stay out of work over the summer and probably look for something new once school is back in session - unless the craft business really takes off and is bringing in enough to make that unneccesary.
Recap: I'm a family practice physician and have the opportunity to do a lot of medical market research surveys. These are not available to the general public.
For April, I earned $709 from survey programs. That was a lot better than I expected because as I've posted previously, I've been really busy and let a lot of invites go unanswered so I was pleased with that. The past couple of weeks I've managed to do several so I'm hoping May will be decent too. There is usually a lag of a couple of weeks between when I do a program and when I get paid, although some are instant or close to it.
Quick recap - I'm a family practice physician and get to do a lot of medical market research surveys. This serves as a second income for me and I track my earnings here.
For the month of March, as I expected, income was on the lower side: $450. Not bad certainly but I knew it wouldn't be higher as I've been extremely busy and just haven't had the time or energy to do as many surveys. April will probably be similarly low unless things slow down a bit at work and with my volunteer responsibilities as president of our synagogue (which I doubt). Still, an extra $450/month is nothing to complain about.
For the month of February, I made $428 from my medical surveys. Not a great month but not bad, plus it was a short month.
Once again, I've been really busy the past few weeks so March will probably be a low month but there are only so many hours in a day. It's all good though.
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