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Welcome to the Wealthy Nickel Extra Income Report! Each month, I share all the different ways we make extra income outside the 9-5 job.
I’ve actually been a little lazy and this is my first income report since May. Time flies, and we’ve been busy at the Wealthy Nickel household! But I promise I’ll catch you up on the months in between.
For a little background, I decided to share my side hustle income for a few reasons:
- To show you exactly how I make extra money while working a full time job
- To keep me accountable to my goals, and
- To inspire you to start your own money-making ventures on the side.
My family lives on a single income, and we are blessed that that income is enough to pay the bills and put food on the table. But we decided several years ago that we wanted to pursue financial independence and be able to “retire” (whatever that means) long before we hit 65.
In order to do that, we needed to supercharge our savings, which was not going to happen on a single income. We needed to figure out how to make additional income. And with 2 young kids we needed something that didn’t require a huge time commitment. Hence our first side hustle (real estate rentals) was born.
Since then, we’ve tried lots of different side hustles. As we experiment with new ideas, I will share our strategies here. None of this is rocket science, but my hope is you will be able to learn from our extra income projects and apply what you learn to your own projects.
There are a million different ways you can earn extra income on the side, and I certainly haven’t tried everything. There are a lot of good ideas out there that may be a better fit for you. If you want to get some more ideas, I have a Side Hustle Interview Series that documents creative ways others are making money on the side.
With that out of the way, let’s get to this month’s income report!
EXTRA INCOME GOALS FOR 2019
While we made over $100k in 2018 from side hustles and passive income, I don’t think that’s a realistic goal for 2019. Almost half of that income came from a flip and wholesale deal we did, and we made the decision to ramp down our flipping business while we have very young kids.
Since we’ve been making moves with our real estate portfolio to make it more passive, I do believe our real estate crowdfunding cash flow should increase this year to make up for some of our lost active income.
- Cash Back Apps: $500
- I started looking for the best cash back apps in September of last year, and think between my wife and I we can make $500 per year with minimal effort.
- Credit Card Rewards: $1,000
- It’s time to sign up for another couple of rewards credit cards this year. If we can get 2 cards with a $500 bonus each, we’ll knock this one out easily.
- Interest Earned: $1,000
- Since selling off some of our real estate, we’ve slowly been moving money into crowdfunding or other investments. But we have a decent amount of cash laying around. I’m currently earning 2.2% at Ally Bank right now, but need to switch over to CIT Bank as they are paying 2.4%!
- Realtor Commissions: $15,000
- My wife has been able to make $15-20k the last few years just from random friends and family transactions. There’s no business in the pipeline, and we don’t do any marketing, but something usually pans out throughout the year.
- Real Estate Crowdfunding: $25,000
- We have a significant chunk of money in real estate crowdfunding and other private equity deals. Some send us a monthly or quarterly check, while others won’t pay us a dime for 5 years or more. Based on the types of deals we’re in, I think we should be able to get $25k in passive cash flow delivered to our mailbox in 2019 🙂
- Rental Properties: $25,000
- We don’t have any big plans to buy or sell any rental properties this year. My goal is to make $300 cash flow per month for each of our 7 units, which comes out to just over $25k.
- Blogging: $500
- Right now blogging is a fun hobby that has cost me a few hundred dollars so far. I’m hoping in 2019 I’ll be able to turn a small profit. We’ll see!
- Total Extra Income Goal: $68,000
Most of our extra income relies on real estate, which is very lumpy. But on average, our goal is to make $5,667 per month.
MONTHLY EXTRA INCOME REPORT
- Cash Back Apps
- This Month: $14
- Year to Date: $492
- Credit Card Rewards
- This Month: $1,277
- Year to Date: $2,937
- Interest Earned
- This Month: $94
- Year to Date: $1,356
- Realtor Commissions
- This Month: -$158
- Year to Date: $10,572
- Real Estate Crowdfunding
- This Month: $2,815
- Year to Date: $19,522
- Real Estate Flips
- This Month: $0
- Year to Date: $32,275
- Rental Properties
- This Month: -$423
- Year to Date: -$15,426
- This Month: -$225
- Year to Date: $982
- Total Extra Income: $3,394
In total, we made $3,394 this month!
Our side hustle income is generally very lumpy and depends heavily on when my wife pulls in a real estate commission check, or if we have a big repair bill on a rental property.
Since we closed on our flip property earlier this year (income we weren’t expecting to have this year), we decided to do some capital improvements on our rentals which will end up costing around $20,000. We’ve done most of that work now, and it will leave us cash flow negative on our rental properties for the year. We’ve enjoyed several good years of above pro forma returns on our rental properties, and apparently this is the year to even things out.
PROGRESS TOWARD ANNUAL EXTRA INCOME GOAL
Annual Income Goal: $68,000
YTD Extra Income: $52,710
While it’s been a bumpy ride, we are pretty much on track for our year end goal.
We ended up completing a flip (which we weren’t expecting) that brought in $30k, but our rental property cash flow is sitting at a -$15k, well below what we initially forecast.
Here is our progress for the year to date. For more details, read on!
FLIP PROPERTY – $0
Nothing to report on the flip front this month. We did one flip in the spring (you can read more about it in our May income report).
We also had an unexpected wholesale deal come up in July. Another agent in my wife’s office had listed a property a little outside of town, and our tree removal guy wanted to see it (he owns several rental properties himself).
While he wasn’t interested because it needed quite a bit of work, we learned in the process that the seller was VERY motivated to sell quickly. It was listed at $120,000 but we ended up putting it under contract ourselves for $80,000.
It was a weird property, and I honestly had no idea what it was worth. It consisted of 5 mobile homes on about 2 acres quite a ways out of town. We partnered with another wholesaler who had more buyers in that area and split the assignment fee 50/50. We only ended up getting $2,500 each, but my wife also got a commission on the buy side.
So all in all, we made a few thousand dollars with very little work!
And for those who say you can’t wholesale a property listed on the market in 2019, we did 🙂
CASH BACK APPS – $14
I have a goal to make an extra $500 per year from our cash back apps. With our total income so far at $492, we are almost at our goal for the year already in September!
If there is one app I’d recommend to anyone in the personal finance space, it’s Drop. I’ve found that Drop consistently has finance-related offers that pay you $10-50 just to sign up and participate in a free app of some kind.
A couple months ago, I set up a free account with SoFi Wealth and deposited $100. Per the terms, I made a free $50 just for leaving the account open for 90 days, which is a 200% annualized return on my money!
The beauty of cash back apps is that they require almost zero work. It’s basically free money if you do any shopping with credit cards, and the cash back stacks on top of your credit card rewards. In this day and age, between credit card rewards and cash back apps, you should be able to make at least 3-5% back on every purchase you make.
I have downloaded dozens of cash back apps in search of the ones that pay out the most money for the least amount of work. Once I determine which ones work best, I get my wife to sign up (using my referral code of course for an extra $5-10 bonus). Since my wife does most of the day to day shopping and online purchases for our family, she’s really the one making most of the money.
As of September 2019, here are the apps on my phone:
Drop is one of my favorite apps because it doesn’t require me to do anything at all. I just downloaded the app and linked my credit card. Now when I make purchases on my credit card, it automatically adds points to my account.
If you want to try it out you can sign up here and get a $5 bonus when you link your credit card (that is an affiliate link – I get a small commission if you join that helps keep the lights on around here).
Dosh is very similar to Drop – once you link a credit card you don’t have to do anything else but collect your cash. Where Drop let’s you earn cash back at a set of specific stores that you choose, Dosh gives you cash back at wider range of stores. I’ve noticed that Dosh tends to have a lot of local restaurants in its list (usually with 5% cash back).
You can sign up to try Dosh through this link and get a $5 bonus (again, that’s my affiliate link).
Where Drop and Dosh give you cash back for local shopping, Ebates is all about online shopping. If you’re like my family, we buy everything we can online, and Ebates helps us save 2-5% on almost every purchase.
Ebates is probably the most well-known app on my list, and for good reason. It has relationships with a huge number of retailers, so you can get cash back for almost anything you buy online.
Ebates is currently giving out a $10 bonus when you spend $25 if you sign up through this link. (That’s my referral link. I get a small bonus in my Ebates account when you get a bonus.)
I am on the fence with Ibotta. I think it’s a great app to save money on groceries, and lots of people who use it rave about it. You can get cash back at almost every grocery store imaginable by selecting offers in the app on various products you buy on a weekly basis.
Unfortunately, we do most of our grocery shopping at Aldi’s, which is pretty much the ONLY grocery store not affiliated with Ibotta. (But don’t feel too bad for me, Aldi’s is the best thing that’s ever happened to our grocery budget). We still do a little shopping at “normal” grocery stores, so it’s worth keeping on my phone for now.
I do heartily recommend the app to anyone who shops at a grocery store other than Aldi’s. Ibotta advertises that their average user saves $20 per month ($240 per year) for a few minutes of work each week.
If you want to give it a try, you can get a $10 bonus when you start shopping with Ibotta here. (Like Ebates, I get a small bonus in my Ibotta account when you get your bonus.)
5. Pei (get a $5 bonus with referral code s2jv9p)
A few months ago, I started using a new app called Pei, which is similar to Dosh and Drop. You just link a credit card and start earning cash back (on top of your regular credit card rewards) when you use that card at participating stores. It also seems to stack on top of Dosh and Drop, so you can earn double or triple cash back at the same store if you use multiple apps!
Pei seems to have cash back for the most stores of any app I use. I’ve gotten cash back at Starbucks, Chipotle, Target, CVS, Chick-fil-A, 7-Eleven, Papa Murphy’s, and more. They have a pretty impressive list of stores where you can earn cash back, unlike some other apps.
As of this writing, you can get a $5 bonus with Pei if you sign up using this link and use the referral code s2jv9p (you must type in the referral code to get the bonus, it won’t automatically populate).
Get the 5 Apps I Use and a $35 Cash Bonus When You Sign Up Now!
CREDIT CARD REWARDS – $1,277
Last year, I decided to report the income when we actually cashed out the reward points. I am rethinking that, and may report the income when we receive the rewards. Most of our rewards are Chase Ultimate Rewards Points, which we can generally get a redemption rate of 1.5:1 on when we book travel, but I would just value them at a purely cash value of 100 points to $1.
In September, we booked almost $1,300 worth of travel for free with rewards points.
We converted about 77,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points into Southwest points to book 4 tickets to see my wife’s family for Thanksgiving. Our youngest just turned 2, so he no longer flies free and have to pay full fare for the whole family 🙁
We have a pretty good sized bank of Chase points stored up for future travel, and we add about 3-4,000 points ($30-40) a month just from our normal credit card use, mainly on our Chase cards.
We’ve got a balance of over 200,000 points right now, which at our average redemption rate of 1.5:1 is worth $3,000 toward travel costs!
I absolutely love credit card rewards, as we haven’t paid for a plane ticket in almost 3 years now.
How to Get Started With Credit Card Rewards (And Earn $600)
For the newbie, I recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred card as your starting point.
Previously, both my wife and I signed up for our own Chase Sapphire Preferred cards, and after we each met the $4,000 spending requirement in the first three months, we received 50,000 points each for a total welcome offer of 100,000 points!
This offer is now expired but has been replaced by an even better one, with the Chase Sapphire Preferred now offering 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months. Be advised, though, there is a $95 annual fee on this card, but this is offset by double points back on travel, as well as numerous benefits such as trip cancellation insurance. Better yet, when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards, those 60,000 points are worth $750 towards travel!
INTEREST EARNED – $94
We have a decent amount of cash sitting around in emergency funds and reserve funds for our rental properties, as well as money waiting to be invested in passive crowdfunding projects.
This month we earned $94. Interest rates have come down across the board over the last few months. Most of our money is in an Ally Bank account earning 1.8%, but I still need to move it over to CIT Bank which consistently pays the highest interest rate I’ve been able to find (currently 2.1%).
CIT Bank Has the Best Interest Rate I Can Find Anywhere
If you’re looking for a good bank account to hold your emergency fund, or other cash savings, I highly recommend looking into CIT Bank.
By being online only they are able to keep expenses down and offer the best interest rate I can find without sacrificing service.
REALTOR COMMISSIONS – ($158)
As part of our real estate investing side hustle (see below), my wife got her real estate license mainly to save on transaction costs for our own purchases. However, it costs a decent amount of money to maintain her license ($2-3k per year), so she takes on clients here and there. These are almost exclusively friends, family, and referrals. She doesn’t do any marketing to find clients.
My wife stays home with the kids (a much more than full-time job itself), but we’ve been surprised that she’s been able to net around $15-20k per year the last few years only working a few hours here and there. When she has a client, most of the work tends to be evenings and weekends, so I can watch the kids while she shows houses. I would say she spends less than 10 hours a month on this side hustle.
The realtor income is highly erratic. She might have a closing one month and make $5,000, and then not make any money for 3 or 4 months.
Not much to report in September. My wife took on a few rental clients and is waiting to get paid for those. In the meantime, she paid $158 this month toward her annual dues to maintain her license.
We posted one of our own houses for rent, and we had several people inquire about the house that would have made great tenants, but the house didn’t work for them for one reason or another. My wife ended up helping 2 of them find a house that did work for them, and will get a commission for it. Not a bad way to make some extra cash while you’re renting out your own property at the same time.
As an added bonus, at least one of them plans to buy once their lease expires, and wants my wife to help them with that process too!
REAL ESTATE CROWDFUNDING – $2,815
Real estate crowdfunding brings in the holy grail of truly passive income. As we get busier with young kids and family life, we are trying to transition some of our gains from active real estate investing into more passive investments. Our real estate crowdfunding income represents the monthly income our invested capital is making for us each month.
If you don’t know what real estate crowdfunding is, you are basically contributing money to a large commercial real estate deal, either as a lender (debt) or as a part-owner (equity). The sponsor of the deal does all the work to find the property, negotiate it, fix it up, rent it out, and eventually sell it. You the passive investor just contribute capital to make the deal happen. You also get absolutely no say in how the property is run, so by far the most important aspect of my due diligence is looking at the sponsor and their past track record.
There are lots of platforms to get into real estate crowdfunding (RealtyShares – no longer accepting new investors, CrowdStreet, EquityMultiple, etc.) You can also find deal sponsors the old-fashioned way through networking with other people. That is how I’ve found most of the sponsors I’ve invested with.
I’m currently invested in a few different deals:
- A fund that invests in land deals and single family rental houses
- An apartment complex that happens to be 5 minutes from my house
- A fund diversified across multifamily, commercial, and industrial properties
- A fund that invests in Class C apartments in the Midwest
- A fund that invests in Class B/C apartments in the Southeast
- A fund that invests in retail shopping centers
- A life settlement fund (not real estate, but still passive private equity)
- NEW for September: A Class B apartment complex in the Midwest
Over time, I generally expect my passive real estate investments to return 12-15% per year (IRR). They are all long term investments though, with the money locked up for 5-10 years. Some give me a monthly payment of the cash flow the property generates, and some don’t pay out until everything is sold off in 5 or 10 years.
September Update: Several of the deals we invest in pay out their preferred return quarterly, so January, April, July, and October will have abnormally high cash flow. This month we received $2,815 from all of the crowdfunding deals we are invested in. There was a portfolio of properties sold in one of our funds, and the majority of the money we made came from the distributions from that.
How to Get Started in Real Estate Crowdfunding
If you’re brand new to real estate and don’t have a lot of money to invest, I would recommend starting small. Two platforms I like are Groundfloor and Fundrise.
Groundfloor – Groundfloor allows you to participate in loans backed by real estate (as little as $10 per loan). I’ve personally gotten an annualized return of 12.5% over the past couple of years across all the various loans I helped to fund.
While that is certainly no guarantee of future results, I do think that real estate is one of the safer ways to invest in debt because you have a hard asset behind the loan (unlike with peer to peer lending where the only thing you have is a credit score and a promise to pay).
Fundrise – Fundrise lets you invest in a diversified portfolio of real estate with as little as $500. Because it is a private fund and your money is tied up for 3+ years (unlike a public REIT) the returns tend to be higher, and the low minimum makes it a good introduction to crowdfunding.
Our own personal Fundrise portfolio is highly diversified across equity and debt deals, and in different geographic locations. I like that Fundrise gives you details on all of the individual properties you are invested in through the fund.
DiversyFund – Similar to Fundrise, DiversyFund allows you to invest in a diversified portfolio of real estate with only $500 to start. Unlike Fundrise, DiversyFund focuses on value-add multi-family (acquiring apartment complexes and improving them to raise rents and ultimately the value of the property).
I think multi-family will be a great asset class to be in for the foreseeable future, and DiversyFund is positioned to take advantage of that.
RENTAL PROPERTIES – ($423)
Rental properties are where our side hustle journey began. We are now 5 years in, and currently have a small portfolio of 7 units. We aim to make about $300 cash flow per month per unit, which has gotten harder to do the last couple years as real estate prices have risen. You can read the story of how we got started in real estate investing here.
All but one of our rentals we self-manage (one rental is in a different state), so we market the property, pick the tenants, and answer the phone when there are problems. Most months nothing happens and there isn’t really anything to do but deposit the rent, but sometimes we get an emergency call that water is pouring out from under the house and we have to figure out how to deal with it. We’ve built up a good list of contractors we trust, which has helped tremendously in keeping costs down and tenants happy.
One thing I don’t include in the cash flow is the principal paydown on the mortgage. While this isn’t money coming in to pay the bills, it does slowly increase our net worth as the tenants continue to pay down our mortgages. Here’s the breakdown by property.
MONTHLY PROFIT AND LOSS BY PROPERTY
Overall, if everything is running perfectly – we collect all the projected rent checks, and our only expense is the mortgage payment, we would cash flow about $3,500 per month. That is the absolute ceiling, and of course you have to factor in other expenses such as repairs, property management, and vacancy.
In September, we LOST $423 on our rental properties.
You win some, you lose some, and this has been a rough year for our rentals. This is the reality of rental property investing. If anyone tells you that you just buy a single family rental, collect the rent, pay the mortgage, and the rest is a steady flow of cash into your bank account every month, they are lying to you. Over time, our properties have averaged out to give us a good return. But we’ve had good months and bad months – even good years and bad years.
When we closed on our flip property, we decided to use a majority of those profits to do some capital improvements on our duplex. I debated whether to include that in our cash flow numbers here, because it makes them look REALLY bad. Even though these improvements are somewhat optional, I want to be as transparent as possible with all our expenses. We’ve had some really good years with our rental property cash flow, but this year due to these capital expenses, we will probably be overall negative from a cash flow perspective.
If you want to get into rental property investing, make sure you’re in it for the long haul. I’m still confident that these are great assets to own to add to our net worth over time, but sometimes over the short term, things don’t look so great.
Here are the highlights for September:
- Our Indiana house was FINALLY rented out. We had to evict the previous tenant back in May, and the place needed about $6k worth of work to get it ready. We realized all of that expense this month, along with the first month’s income from the new tenant. This is actually a lease option, so the $3,000 fee we collected is non-refundable in exchange for the tenant’s right to purchase the property within the next 3 years.
- We are looking for a new tenant at our duplex. The duplex was our very first rental property. One side has been occupied since before we bought it, and they are some of our best tenants. We seem to have issues on the other side keeping tenants, and the ones that moved in just a few months ago are now moving out. They have a legitimate, unavoidable reason (work visa was not renewed), but it still means we will have to spend time and money to get it re-rented.
All in all, it looks like 2019 will be a bad year for cash flow. Some days I love owning rental properties. Other days I just want to sell them all and be done with it. Such are the trials and tribulations of a real estate investor.
But cash flow is only a small part of the reason I own rental properties. All of our properties are in good locations with good appreciation potential, not to mention the fact that the tenants are paying down our mortgages, and any income we get is very tax-advantaged. I’m not worried about the long term, and still believe rental properties are one of the best ways to build wealth.
Blogging – ($225)
I’ve earned a few affiliate commissions from products I’ve recommended (thanks to those of you who signed up using my links – I’d love to know what you think of the products!)
This month, I got a $571 payout for various affiliate commissions, and had $797 of expenses. I keep track of the actual cash flow, and had a couple big expenses to report this month. Here’s the breakdown:
- Impact Radius (Drop, Fundrise, Ibotta, Credit Karma): $244
- Commission Junction (Swagbucks, Morning Brew): $219
- Survey Junkie: $63
- FlexOffers (Trim): $46
- Total: $571
- Computer stuff (dual monitors!): $267
- Prepaid marketing package for 12 months: $300
- Giveaways: $199
- Email marketing (Mailerlite): $30
- Total: $796
My total income year to date (after expenses) is almost $1,000, which is almost double my goal!
If you want to see our past income reports, check them out below:
- May 2019 Extra Income Report – $24,159
- April 2019 Extra Income Report – $2,000
- March 2019 Extra Income Report – $15,258
- February 2019 Extra Income Report – $5,787
- January 2019 Extra Income Report – $2,812
- 2018 Year in Review – Over $100,000 in Side Hustle Income
- November 2018 Extra Income Report – $6,378
- October 2018 Extra Income Report – $9,807
What do you do to make extra income on the side? Let me know in the comments!