Funemployment Report: September 2014

I definitely didn’t accomplish anywhere near what I wanted to this month, yet I felt it was a very productive month. I just set way too ambitious goals! I’m going to continue to set ambitious goals and mostly fail at them because I’d rather do that than feel like I don’t have much to do or am not sure what to do next.


In September, I also started keeping a list of everything I worked on or accomplished through the course of the day. I put my goal-related activities on the list as well as meetings, my contract work, EPF-related writing and correspondence, and major household chores. It’s wonderful to be able to look at the list at the end of the day and see all in one place everything I did!




Goals for September 2014


1: Launch Website #1. Grade: D

Hasn’t happened yet! But I am even more excited than I was last month about this site based on some conversations I’ve had about it. I did lay out (on my whiteboard) all the changes I want made to the site and am just waiting on Kyle to implement them.


2: Build Website #2 and send to testers. Grade: 0

What’s worse than an F? Doing no work toward a goal whatsoever. J


3: Make the most I can of FinCon. Grade: A-

I got more than I bargained for at FinCon! I planned my schedule in advance using the conference app, which is what this goal was mostly about. I really pushed myself during the conference to meet a lot of people, not just look for the bloggers I already “knew.” I am not a natural networker and I’m an introvert, so even walking through the vendors area and approaching some was a challenge for me. I didn’t skip any sessions I had planned to attend or turn in early (for me). So in all of those ways FinCon14 was a success for me. The minus I’m giving myself is that I didn’t quite meet all the bloggers I would have liked to.


4: Spruce up EPF. Grade: C-

I made a few changes on EPF in September, though not nearly as many as I would have liked. The big news, really, is the newsletter I started – you can sign up for it at the top of the right sidebar. It’s one of the ways I’m trying to foster more engagement with you all.


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

According to the outline I created on my whiteboard in September, I am well into writing the core content of Website #3, which I have now revealed to be Grad Student Finances. I still have a ways to go until I’m ready to put it online, though. I started brainstorming about the look I want for the site, but haven’t gotten very far in actually picking the design. Lots more work to do here but I’m so excited! If you are a grad student, will you please go over to GSF and sign up for its mailing list? I’ll send you an email to let you know how you can be involved in contributing to the content on GSF.


6: Trick out my LinkedIn profile. Grade: 0

Not only did I not make any changes to my LinkedIn profile, I didn’t even try to learn about it. But the redeeming action I did take in the whole career progression thing was that I went to the career fair at my university, which ultimately led me to interview for an internship (40 hours/week and I’m assuming paid). I also applied for two other full-time jobs this month and was accepted into an internship program at my university (just for experience, about 4 hours/week).


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

I attended a workshop this month from my university’s career center for grad students and postdocs titled “Finding the Right Fit.” At the end of the workshop, we were given a list of great resources, including several books. I’d already read a couple of them but that was the start of my reading list! But I still haven’t started reading any of the books. :/


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

I’m well on my way to having my PF-for-grad students seminar presentation made, but I only made the barest of outlines for the tax one. I’m so pumped about my money management seminar I almost can’t stand it. One of the sessions at FinCon14 got me thinking that maybe I could give this talk elsewhere, not just at my university; perhaps I could give it at the two other major research universities in the Triangle and even at my alma mater since so many of those students go on to grad school. That ambition is pushing me to make it even more awesome.


9: Work on the one-on-one coaching program for my church and meet with my supervisor. Grade: 0

I didn’t think about this goal at all in September except to feel guilty about it. But stay tuned for the October update. 😉



Extra Money Earned in September


My “personal” earnings represent all the money I was paid this month that was not made through our online ventures. (This does not include Kyle’s irregular income from his church job. For a more complete tally of the money we have coming in, see our monthly spending reports.) The online income accounts for our gross income, not net – we’re still in the red due to my FinCon expenses but are gunning to get into the black by the end of the year.


My goal for September was to bring in any amount of ‘personal’ money, which I did not accomplish. My strategy was to pursue doing some clinical trials, but even though I contacted several groups nothing worked out in terms of eligibility and scheduling.


I also wanted to work as much as my contract job as possible, which I’m happy to say I did. Well, I did pass on a few optional jobs that seemed too far out of my areas of expertise. I already know what my October income will be (from my September work), but you’ll have to wait until the next funemployment report for the numbers as I won’t be paid until October 15th.


personal: $0

online: $107.28



Goals for October 2014


I want to point out before I lay out my goals for this month that I actually have a lot of activities going on in October and following that are great uses of my time, but they are not included in my goals list because they don’t require self-motivation to follow through on. These activities are: completing assignments for my contract job, serving as a Financial Peace University table leader, participating in an internship program through my university (low time commitment, just for experience), attending a meeting for my university personal finance committee service, and meeting with clients as a peer financial counselor at my university.


1: Finish my PF-for-grad students seminar and practice it for a small audience.


My seminar is scheduled for November 13! I want the presentation to be AWESOME and the best way I know how to do that is to practice practice practice in front of audiences to get critical feedback. I’m sure Kyle will see the presentation multiple times, and my goal is to perform a full rehearsal with a small audience of friends to get their input before the end of the month so I have time to further refine the presentation.


2: Launch Website #1. 


Sounds familiar! 😉 This month we will implement the planned edits, send the site to testers, and finally link it here and push it through social media!


3: Plan and code Website #2. 


I can plan website #2 (sister site to #1) without Kyle’s help but he’ll have to code it up. I hope once he re-familiarizes himself with website #1 this won’t be too difficult.


4: Launch Grad Student Finances. 


To launch GSF, I need to finish writing the core content, pick a template and design, solicit some content from fellow bloggers and readers, and get it online. More details on how you can get involved are on the GSF mailing list. 🙂


5: Meet with my supervisor about my church service.


The concrete result here is that I meet with the person in charge of the financial care ministry at my church. To get to that point I’ll have done a sufficient amount of work on our project to justify the meeting.


6: Finish a slide deck for my taxes-for-grad students presentation.


I don’t think I’ll have a chance to record this presentation this month as my money management seminar is my priority, so I’m going to start by just making a slide deck that I can give to people as a PDF. From there I’ll work up to it being a proper presentation, but that’s for later.


7: Outline my ebook.


I’ve had an ebook in mind for like forever but I haven’t really started working on it yet. This month I’m going to create an outline.


8: Commission a header for EPF.


Three years in, we’re finally getting around to it! Kyle has been playing around with header components forever but we could never settle on something we liked. Kyle’s artistic capabilities are much higher than mine but he’s also too much of a perfectionist about this. I’ll probably purchase one through Fiverr to start – we don’t have the income to justify a more expensive one. 🙂



Realistically, if I end up getting this internship I interviewed for, I won’t be able to accomplish all of these goals on top of my ongoing commitments. In that case, my seminar is my priority, then website #1, my financial care ministry service, and GSF. Wish me luck! I love funemployment!



Do you prefer to set overly ambitious goals or ones you’re sure you’ll accomplish? If you earn any side hustle income, how consistent is it month-to-month?


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22 Responses to "Funemployment Report: September 2014"

  1. I love your idea of making a list of everything you’ve accomplished at the end of the day. I really think I might start implementing that! 🙂
    Ashley @ Saving Money in your Twenties recently posted..Mouse in the house

    1. Emily says:

      I don’t wait to the end of the day because I might forget everything I did! It’s a running list that I like to look back over at the end of the day. Some days recently have been pretty light on the accomplishments front so I need to step it up (but at least I know).

  2. Tiffany says:

    Hi Emily! I’ve lurked on your site for a long time now and found it really helpful since I’m a graduate student and just starting in trying to get my finances organized.

    For keeping track of what you’re doing – a lot of people in my lab use Toggl (, which is free. It might be overkill – but sometimes it’s helpful to look back and see what you spent all your time on!

    1. Emily says:

      Thanks for breaking your lurker status, Tiffany! I appreciate you letting me know who you are and giving me this tip about Toggl. I have done time tracking occasionally in the past but I don’t think I’m up for it now unless I really notice myself slipping. (Yesterday I fell in a Google hole, but I’m not going to today!) Then again, it was time-consuming to track my time because I was doing it manually and Toggl would make that a lot easier, I’m sure!

      I find it really interesting that there is a culture of using Toggl in your lab, though. I kept track of my working time while I was a student (just on/off, no specific task breakout usually), but I didn’t know of any others who did. I wouldn’t expect time tracking at work to be popular outside of professions that do hourly billing. Do you use it yourself and if so what are the delineations of activities that you make? Is it super detailed by the task or just like labwork/reading/writing/meetings?

      1. Tiffany says:

        I think because my PI has a computer science background, we have a habit of trying lots of different tools/websites for productivity. I’ve never learned so much about tools since joining the lab (Trello (like a bulletin board), Slack (like Hangouts), f.lux (having your computer screen filter bluelight w/sunrise and sunset)).

        I only use Toggl when I’m working from home; it’s harder for me to stay disciplined than in the office/lab, but I “magically” become focused when I label what I’m doing and there’s a timer ticking! If I do use it I usually just break it down into general categories like lab/reading/writing/class.

        Again – thanks for all you post about! I found your site when I had the “Roth IRA contribution question” during my 1st year of grad school. We didn’t get 1099s or W2s, but were told we needed to pay estimated taxes. Luckily for me, my funding source has since switched and the administrators who deal with this new source have decided I will now get a W2 and withholding! No more estimated taxes!

        1. Emily says:

          Kyle was a CS major in college and he is majorly into productivity tools and such, but I never really saw it as part of a larger culture necessarily (his lab isn’t like that), but that makes sense. That’s kind of fun, though. I should try Toggl out just for what you said – maybe it will magically help me stay focused! Though I have to admit I’m much more focused on my funemployment work than I was on a lot of my PhD work.

          Thanks for letting me know how you found EPF! I see the traffic that goes to the Roth IRA post but I never know if people actually stick around after they have their questions answered. Did your school send any kind of notification in place of a year-end tax form while you were on a fellowship/training grant (I assume) during your first year? My university sends a ‘courtesy letter’ that basically says what the gross pay was and that no other info can be provided, but I’m always curious if other universities also do that or do nothing or do something else for those students. That’s great that you now have W-2 pay and taxes withheld – it makes life a lot easier!

          P.S. I hope you will join up with Grad Student Finances as well before or after the launch!

  3. I definitely think you could give your talk elsewhere! Speaking on the topic of personal finance is something I’m also interested in. I figure it might be easier to start out with schools and colleges, and possibly libraries as well. Really excited to see how that turns out for you!

    I don’t know if you’re looking to add more onto your funemployment plate, but you could look into L&E Research if you haven’t yet. They have focus groups for people around NC. I’ve only done one so far, but the pay is pretty decent for an hour or two of your time.

    I’ve recently started using Asana to track all of my tasks. It’s laid out nicely, and once you complete a task, you can look over all of your completed tasks to see how far you’ve come. It helps me stay organized! Good luck with everything this month.
    Erin @ Journey to Saving recently posted..How I Overcame an Unexpected Expense

    1. Emily says:

      Thanks for your support, Erin! And for the tip about L&E Research. I’m open to pretty much any way to make money right now so I will check it out!

      Kyle and I started using Asana a couple months ago but it hasn’t really taken hold for us. I don’t really like to be terribly granular with my project-related tasks (like preparing my seminar) so I seem to be using it to catch to-dos that I can’t accomplish immediately. It’s more of a memory tool, I guess, than an activity tracker the way I’m using it. But I might want to switch it up because I do like the interface.

  4. Kim says:

    I think those are fairly ambitious goals, but I think it’s better to set high expectations and not meet all of them than to set the bar too low. Will your ebook be about personal finance?
    Kim recently posted..How Many Years Of Retirement Will That Cost?

    1. Emily says:

      Yep, halfway through the month I realize that I am going to majorly fail on this set as well, but that’s OK!

      Yes, all my ideas are PF-related these days. 🙂

  5. Myles Money says:

    I think you’re doing this on purpose with the websites… the suspense is killing me! 😀
    Myles Money recently posted..RealVision – The Financial Revolution Will Be Televised

    1. Emily says:

      Haha, Myles, no! Kyle is just super busy and hasn’t made the time to finish coding. Believe me, I’m more eager to have them done than you are. 🙂

  6. Brooke says:

    Wow! You are making such great use of your funemployment time. I def. think there would be demand for PF talks at the other universities in the area (As we are graduates of the other two in the area!).

    As far as apps go, K and I use Asana as a joint to-do list, “Our Groceries” app as a running joint grocery list and “Time Tracker” app by SoftMiMo LLC to track our billable hours at work. I can break it up via project if needed as well. (Only for Android Phones, though).

    I’ve used Trello off and on, but not consistently enough. I think it is because I keep my work to-do list in a word doc and carry around paper copies.
    Brooke recently posted..Weekly Meal Planning & Sample Meal Plans

    1. Emily says:

      Brooke, would you happen to know what group I might pitch the talk to at your alma mater? My university has a PF committee but I think that’s pretty unusual. I got a suggestion of going through the grad student government organization as well. Email me if so at evolvingPF at gmail dot com!

      We are using Asana mostly jointly as well and we love Our Groceries! I recommend that to people frequently. I’m still a big Word user although I’m trying to shift more to Evernote now that I have a few devices I use regularly. Thanks for the suggestions!

  7. I have to admit that without Mrs. FW I would both not know what I’m supposed to be doing AND I would forget the things I’ve done. She keeps the household organized, mostly through a system of paper lists that colorfully litter our kitchen table. I don’t pretend to understand it, but the results are excellent.

    Congrats on getting started on an ebook. Seems like you have a great niche and a large body of work to pull from.
    Mr. Frugalwoods recently posted..Weekly Woot & Grumble: No Heat, No Fire

    1. Emily says:

      That sounds like a very fun-looking system! I hope a strong wind doesn’t come through. 🙂

      Thank you! Now that I’m covering the material of PF for grad students in 3 ways – GSF, my seminar, and the ebook – I’m really trying to fill in the gaps in my knowledge!

  8. I’ve basically done something similar to what you’re doing, in terms of being goal oriented and reviewing the prior month’s activities. So needless to say, I enjoy your approach!

    I try to set stretch goals for the month that are achievable but require me to stay focused to reach them. Honestly, sometimes I do but quite often I don’t. But even when I don’t, at least those ambitious goals got me to make progress that I wouldn’t otherwise make.

    LinkedIn is a great thing to get working on, in terms of having a solid profile. Particularly when in a transition stage.
    Tie the Money Knot recently posted..Companies Paying for Employee Egg Freezing: Nice Benefit, or Ominous Message?

    1. Emily says:

      I think when I’m better able to gauge how much I can accomplish in a month I’ll set goals that are only slightly out of reach instead of wildly. 😉

      I really should get on my LinkedIn profile – definitely by the end of the year! Thanks for the reminder!

  9. Good to meet at Fincon! What a blast.

    That’s very cool you are doing a grad seminar on PF!
    Financial Samurai recently posted..Do You Have The Right Money Mindset To Get Rich?

    1. Emily says:

      Great to meet you as well. 🙂 I enjoyed our conversation. Yes, I’m super excited for my seminar. The registration number has already met what I had in mind for a ‘good turnout’ and it hasn’t even been widely advertised yet!

  10. […] in the summer I started writing the ebook I’ve had in mind for years, but I paused that progress in favor of sending my initial pitch email to all my target […]

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