Funemployment Report: August 2014

My funemployment officially started on Monday!  I spent all of Monday at home or doing errands, then spent all of Tuesday on campus, and I’m spending today at the public library.  I want to figure out quickly which places and times are most conducive to me working efficiently (similar to Erin trying to get in the zone for working).


Last week I started this 30 day workout challenge that my sister recommended on top of doing all the activities I outlined in my post on how to work out without a gym membership and I am feeling great.  I’ve started cooking 100% of my meals again and I’m even waking up earlier than I ever did while I was in grad school (before my alarm – and I thought I wasn’t a morning person)!  In addition to these funemployment goals of working out and cooking, I’m trying to reconnect with old friends and get to know new friends better and also organize our house.  I say that just so you know that not all my goals for this period are work-type goals like the ones I expound below.


I’m going to review the goals I set for August that were supposed to prepare me for funemployment, then list my goals for September, and finally set up a section for reporting my income.  I think my goals for August were a bit too modest so I’m setting myself up to bite off more than I can chew in September! This will be particularly challenging because a lot of these goals require significant back-end work from Kyle.




Goals for August 2014


1: Finish all (possible) PhD-related work.  Grade: B+


I turned in my revised dissertation and all the associated paperwork (meaning the PhD is done done done!!!), cleaned out my bench and office, and helped the lab pack.  The only thing left is to submit this one paper, and I’m waiting on feedback from the other authors so I can’t do anything more on that at the moment.


2: Apply for a contract position. Grade: A+


I applied on August 11 and passed the company’s pre-employment test the following week (nbd as I think basically everyone passes).  I’m supposed to get my first work anytime now, but it will be slow at first for sure.  I’m not going to make any more goals related to this side job because I hope it’s just going to be ongoing work, but I will report my income.


3: Apply for a fellowship. Grade: A-


This isn’t quite done as the deadline was actually extended from September 1 to September 4.  I drafted my essays last week and am working on finalizing them today. The fellowship application itself is actually pretty short – the time-consuming part was deciding which sub-groups to list as my preferred working groups and updating my recommendation letter-writers.  I did an informational interview and emailed a bunch of people to gather the info I needed to pick the sub-groups, so I think I’ve gone above and beyond the necessary legwork there.


4: Contact partners concerning volunteering. Grade: A


Done!  I contacted the person I’ve been working most closely with for the past couple years at my university on personal finance matters and talked about some upcoming events.  I’m also going to be a mentor for a group of undergraduates who are putting on some PF-related seminars for their peers.  I also volunteered to serve as a table host at Financial Peace University again and to head up the one-on-one financial coaching portion of my church’s financial ministry.


5: Ramp EPF back up. Grade: A


Starting in the week after my defense, I resumed posting and commenting.  My plan is to have one strictly PF-type post go up each Monday.  One Wednesday per month will be devoted to this funemployment series.  One Friday per month will be devoted to reviewing our spending from the previous month and another Friday will be devoted to updates on my online projects. Overall I’d like to post at least twice per week, so there will be some other PF posts as well, likely on Wednesdays.


6: Buy two new domains. Grade: A


Done!  I’m not trying to keep them super-secret or anything.  I’ll let you all know about them as soon as we have actual content up there.


7: Explore local internship opportunities. Grade: D


This was sort of a nebulous goal – not SMART at all!  I sent an inquiry out for an internship at my university and followed up but apparently my application is languishing.  I’ve also done some internet searching for other local internships but nothing has interested me so far.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, I’ll probably have to network my way into an internship if I’m going to be able to do one at all.


Goals for September 2014


1: Launch Website #1.


Kyle and I made site #1 last spring but got bogged down in implementing the feedback we got from our testers.  But I want to get this thing out the door this month!  That means we will have to finish fixing up the site, send it out to more testers, and finally launch it to the wider world.  I’m not sure how to do the launch part exactly, but I’ll definitely do a post here and link it all over social media.  After that, I’m not sure, but we’ll save that for October. 😉  (BTW if you are a grad student and want to be a tester for this website even though you don’t know what it is yet, please leave a comment or shoot me an email at evolvingPF at gmail dot com.)


2: Build Website #2 and send to testers.


#2 is a sister site to #1, just for a slightly different audience so it should be pretty fast to build after getting the kinks worked out from #1.  By the end of the month I want to have sent it out to a group of testers for feedback, but I hope there won’t be too many changes after that like there has been for #1. (Same call for testers as for website #1 but this one is for postdocs!)


3: Make the most I can of FinCon.


I am attending FinCon14!  And I have a roommate now!  I need to make a plan for how to maximize what I can get from the conference in terms of learning things and networking.  And then attend.  And then implement what I learn.  More on that in next month’s goals, I guess.


4: Spruce up EPF.


I have a few specific tasks in this category that I won’t get into detail about here because I’m sure it’s boring for most.  If you have any suggestions I’m open to hearing them in the comments or through email.  I bet FinCon will give me lots of ideas as well!


5: Write core content of Website #3 and get a rudimentary design up.


Website #3 is an authority site, so it will require a lot of content-writing up front and just supplementary content over time (unlike a blog).  It’s my most ambitious project for the fall and my passion project.  This month I will write up the core content, enough so that I can get it onto the internet without feeling like it’s missing huge sections, and also work with Kyle on the design and layout.


6: Trick out my LinkedIn profile.


I signed up for LinkedIn sometime around the end of college and have done almost nothing to my profile since then.  I know they’ve added tons of capabilities in the intervening years.  My goal is to update and improve my profile to the best of my ability, after researching what’s now possible.


7: Create a career-search reading list and start reading the first book.


I want to open my mind a bit more about what post-PhD careers are possible for me.


8: Outline and begin making a PF-for-grad students and a taxes-for-grad students seminar.


This goal is sort of combined between my university-related PF volunteer work and my online interests.  My goal is to give a live talk on PF for grad students in early November.  I also was inspired by a recent taxes-for-grad students seminar to create my own, which I think will just be a video.  For September I just want to outline these talks and get started making the slides.


9: Work on the one-on-one coaching program for my church and meet with my supervisor.


This isn’t super specific yet, but I am going to meet with the head of the financial ministry at my church in a few weeks and by then I want to have done some work on the program I’m now in charge of. I probably won’t get too detailed about this on here.


Extra Money Earned in August (from All Sources)


In this section, for the sake of privacy, I’m going to lump my income from all sources together.  However, for clarity I want to draw a distinction between personal straight-to-our-checking income and online keep-in-in-the-business account income.  I’m not going to take our online income into our household earnings for a while yet because we will be in the red for the year from after I attend FinCon14.  So first we have to make it into the black and then I probably still won’t bring the income home because we may choose to reinvest it into design or other services.  Yet I still want to report it because earning some income online is an important part of my funemployment.  So the figure I report for my online income is going to be gross not net for a while – sorry if that’s confusing!


personal: $0

online: $22.64


I’m not too fussed about not earning any personal money this month as this was my last month of full-time employment (and I received my last paycheck at the end of the month) and I wasn’t really trying to earn anything extra.


My goal for September is to be paid something in the personal category, even if it’s just $10, and also to work at my contract job as much as they’ll let me so that I’ll have some income whenever their payroll catches up.  I’m going to wait on setting online income goals until after FinCon.


I’m excited to see how much I can accomplish on these projects this month without that pesky full-time job!


Do you have any special goals for September? Do you prefer to set ambitious or realistic goals? Do you want to be an advance tester for one of more of our new websites?


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23 Responses to "Funemployment Report: August 2014"

  1. Alicia says:

    Sign me up as a tester, if I am still close enough to a grad student for your liking (less than two years out).

    Looks like you have a lot of stuff on the go, that’s for sure. I am quite interested to see the niche website opportunities you’re making. I like the idea of more set-it and forget-it sites for money generation compared to the constant updates on my blog.

    Congrats on getting your bench cleaned off and your dissertation fully submitted.
    Alicia recently posted..Bizarre Line Of Credit Calculations

    1. Emily says:

      I will send the site to you within a couple weeks so you can take a look… but actually the ‘issue’ with you (and I did think of you for the last round of testing) is not the time since your graduation but that you are Canadian! I just haven’t decided how to properly expand it beyond the US – but you’ll see and you can give me feedback on that issue specifically.

      The objective for these other sites is not really to make any money – if anything, it’s for cross-promotion. We’ll probably have Adsense up but I don’t have any monetary expectations for sites 1 and 2. Site 3 could be monetized eventually, but it’s not a near-term goal – again, there will probably just be Adsense and maybe a Republic Wireless referral link for now. 🙂

      Thank you! I’m so glad to have the edits behind me (even though they weren’t much)!

      1. Alicia says:

        Yeah, I was wondering about that being an issue actually since you and I have fairly different experiences with finances and stipends, etc. But if I have nothing to add or it doesn’t make sense to me because I’m Canadian, I’ll just tell you that 🙂 If I can have some input, then bonus!
        Alicia recently posted..Bizarre Line Of Credit Calculations

  2. Wow, you accomplished a lot already! Awesome job. I’m definitely interested in hearing what location works out best for you. I tried the public library route last week and it was all right, but nothing amazing. I am hoping for the same from FinCon. I’d like to spruce up my website more, and I have a feeling it will give me some clarity. Good luck on getting your sites up and running!
    Erin @ Journey to Saving recently posted..August Budget Review

    1. Emily says:

      I’m at the library now and the only issue has been the muffled crying babies from a mommy-and-me group. 🙂 And that I think I’ll have to eat my lunch at room temp since I assume there is no microwave available. It’s nice not to have the home-distractions like cleaning, laundry, and the TV, but then again I like being able to accomplish things around the house, too.

      EPF really needs a big design/template overhaul – we’ve been meaning to do that since mid-2012 – but this month I’m going to focus on some other more minor issues that I can do without Kyle or hiring anyone and wait to see what I learn from FinCon 🙂

  3. ervinshiznit says:

    Congrats on all your funemployment accomplishments so far! You’ve definitely got a plan laid out, which is more than what I can say about some of my unemployed friends.

    Count me in on website #1!

    1. Emily says:

      Thank you! I don’t even mind work work working all the time because this is so much more fun than grad school!

      Great, I know you will offer a unique perspective!

  4. Sara says:

    I’d happily be a tester for your site if you’d like. And if you can wait till late September I can get my husband in on it as well! Though, Liam’s program is online-only if that makes a difference.

    This is my first time reading your site on a tablet and the white background is pretty harsh with this glare. It’s not something I notice from my computer screen, but maybe worth filing away for the redesign.

    1. Emily says:

      Hey, congrats on Liam’s admission! I will email you within 2 weeks about the site – thanks for volunteering!

      Thanks for the feedback about the white background. I think most blogs use black text on white backgrounds, right? Or do they have different colors in the mobile versions?

  5. Wow you have so much on your plate! Good luck with all your goals, and I hope you’ll have some time to relax and celebrate the achievement of your phd.
    Well Heeled Blog recently posted..Pedernales Falls State Park + Enchanted Rock

    1. Emily says:

      I’m piling it all on voluntarily, believe me! I think when I get tired or burned out I’ll let myself take a break since this is really all self-imposed. But as this kind of stuff if what I’ve been doing for fun over the past three years, I really am enjoying doing it all day even if I am busy!

  6. jefferson says:

    You sure do an amazing job of setting goals for yourself!

    I have been trying to make it a point to “ramp up” my site as well.. That includes spending more time on quality posts, networking with other bloggers as much as possible.

    Keep up the good work, Emily.
    jefferson recently posted..Mom Goes Back to Work

    1. Emily says:

      Yes, networking with other bloggers is one of my key actions for this fall. Great point.

  7. Wow, go you! You are tearing up these goals! I’m super impressed by how much you’re accomplishing. And, I wish I was going to FinCon so I could meet you in person. Congrats on getting the new websites ready to launch–I look forward to reading more about them.
    Mrs. Frugalwoods recently posted..Frugal Hound Sniffs: Financially Blonde

    1. Emily says:

      Well, I haven’t accomplished much in the funemployment realm yet, really. Though I consider finishing my dissertation a big accomplishment! Kyle is really going to be doing a big chunk of work on the new websites, so it’s not all me.

      Yes, too bad we won’t get to meet at FinCon this year, but maybe next! Orrrr if Kyle gets a postdoc interview in Boston (Cambridge, actually) I’ll probably come with him and maybe we can arrange a meetup then!

  8. Hey, just graduated from my Master’s in May. If that’s close enough to your target audience, sign me up!

    Glad you are taking advantage of your funemployment to the fullest! It is a unique opportunity and you are seizing it! You know you are using your time how you would like it if you track it like this.
    Brooke @ PF Twins recently posted..Ways We’re Saving Money On Our Trip To Europe

    1. Emily says:

      Yes, that is close enough – I will email you in the next couple weeks!

      I’m considering actually tracking my time in addition to using these goals. I’m definitely going to do it for my contract job so I know what my true hourly rate is, but I think if I do it for all my funemployment activities it will help keep me honest. I tracked my working time for about the last four years of grad school so that I wouldn’t get caught up with timewasters, and I’ve tracked ALL of my time from waking to sleeping for about two weeks on two occasions. It’s a lot of work to do it by hand, but maybe there is a good app or something…

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