Well, out with December and 2012! This is our ninth monthly report since we planted the LTNE flag on the Interwebs and I love the progress we continue to make!
Let’s get to the report!
Top site referrers:
Once again, Mr. Money Mustache sent the most people over here. Thanks also to Doug Nordman’s recently redesigned Military Retirement and Financial Independence blog and to the Financial Samurai for visitors as well!
Most accessed posts this month:
This Month’s Income:
Our active income increased as Jen was able to get more hours in at work and USAA cut us an additional $207 out of our Subscriber’s Savings Account, which they do annually from profits (you owe it to yourself to check out USAA for your banking -- they are a superb company!). We’re zeroing in on the elusive $9500 net monthly income mark, which is our next target!
Internet-derived passive income increased by 39 percent this month, with our top income earners being Squarespace and Amazon.com affiliate links, for a total of $144. This is the first time since we started our online efforts that we’ve earned over $100 purely with affiliate-derived income!
Several of you have signed up with Squarespace through our links to create your own sites and blogs. Squarespace is the easy-to-use site creation and hosting service that we use for the Live the New Economy site, so we’re happy to be an affiliate for them, and we’re pleased that a few people again this month have signed up with them!
In addition, I once again began using CPC links late last month through Media.net and generated a small amount of money as readers occasionally clicked on those search-targeted ads.
As an experiment, I placed a large ad block at the top of the site and a smaller ad block at the bottom of each blog entry for half of the month and then removed the large ad block for the latter half of the month, replacing it with some other affiliate ad.
I found that the smaller ad unit embedded at the end of blog posts generated nearly twice the revenue of the larger, top of the site ad units, plus it generated nearly three times the ad impressions of the top unit. Bottom line: I’m dedicating the top ad unit to a higher payout affiliate link or advertiser and will limit CPC ads to the end-of-blog-entry position, as I think that profile performs better.
I’m going to continue to experiment with ad placement over time and will publish observations as I discover them.
I recently reviewed Dollar Shave Club and two people have signed up to get their awesome quality (and cheap!) razor blades through my referral link, earning me two months of free blades! Thanks mystery shavers!
This month’s passive income sources:
Amazon Affiliate: $66.02
Interest from Lending Club Loans: $13.35
Dollar Shave Club (Free Blades!): $12
Disqus Discovery: $.10
InfoLinks (I only use InfoLinks on our niche site): $.05
As part of our passive income strategy, we also increased our stake in Lending Club loans, bringing our assets there to $2541, accelerating the growth of our social lending snowball. Our investment there is currently yielding a 17.87% return on investment!
As part of our strategy for 2013 (and beyond) we are going to begin making principle payments on our rental home mortgage. Now that we are free of any other debt, we are orienting on a balanced approach to asset creation and more aggressive mortgage debt reduction. More on this strategy in the upcoming month as I lay out our goals for 2013.
This is a change from last month, where I posted that I was going to focus purely on asset creation and let our mortgage ride, but since then, I’ve become more focused on paying off our mortgage in an accelerated way, because I’m increasingly unwilling to have any debt hanging over our head, even when the numbers work out slightly in favor of investments vs. paying off mortgage debt.
Also, this chart from Ready for Zero, which is a free service that we use for our debt reduction planning, has had a powerful psychological effect on my thoughts on mortgage debt! An extra $1000 a month of principal payments is going to shorten the life of our mortgage by nine years and save us over $82,000 in interest.
Our net worth continues to grow very quickly now that we've committed to a debt-free lifestyle and are working very hard to increase our active and passive income streams. We’re still upside down with our rental home mortgage, but we should hit positive net worth within six months barring some calamity!
It looks like we’re going to fail to meet the conditions of the Yakezie Challenge, since I haven’t been able to get the site’s Alexa rank below 200,000. I’m less frustrated by this than I thought, because I now know that a large part of that ranking number is not driven by actual aggregate page views, but instead by driving people with the Alexa toolbar installed to your site, which can be an artificial indicator of actual site performance.
So, how was traffic this month? Great! As we once again got some real growth, with our unique visitors to the site up 20% (1,640 to 1,972). We are close to hitting 2,000 unique visitors for a month!
I started culling people from Twitter, but growth there still increased!
If you are interested in extending interest-free education loans to under served communities around the world, check out Live the New Economy’s newly-formed Vittana team! We extended another loan this month to help finance the education of a nursing student in Paraguay (the kids picked the recipient). Paying forward a small amount of money can make a real difference in people’s lives, so check it out!
Earlier in the month, I asked you to answer our one-minute survey on future LTNE content, and here are the results:
So, expect more posts that target your interests! If you’d like to take one minute to answer our survey, click here.
Another great month with progress in nearly every area! If there is one thing that you can do to help out our site, it is to spread the word -- if there is anyone you know that might profit from what we’re writing about here, please let them know about us!
Thanks for a great 2012! I think 2013 is going to be our breakout year!