Doing a Better Job Tracking My Passive Income Streams and Retirement Savings

passive income streamsI’ve got to admit: 2012 was not a bad year as far as my passive income streams go! Before blogging and investing, I was relying on sign-up bonuses, credit card rewards, and small stuff like online surveys to make a little side cash. A lot can change in a year and half …

Since taking a leap of faith on blogging and investing, I’ve made a lot more money than I ever thought I would from passive income. Blogging has by far been the front-runner with its endless possibilities of advertising, affiliate sales, writing, etc. After a lot of research, I also laid the first brick of my soon-to-be castle of dividend paying stocks – an effort I expect to cross $100 per month mark in no time.

But one thing I regret not doing since the beginning of all this was taking the time to keep track of all this information. With the exception of tracking my blog income for tax reasons, I really couldn’t put a figure on all the loose rewards I’ve earned over the years. Yes, sure, writing things down on paper isn’t going to make me any richer. But it would be nice to have some records that I can compare to year over year. It would also help to see which of my efforts is generating the best return (or the least).

In addition, with my retirement savings it is pretty the same story. I know I’m maxing out my 401k and IRA’s, but how does that compare to my income? What percentage is that? What about my newer investment goals? What percentage do they add to this?


How I’ll Measure My Passive Income Streams and Retirement Savings:

As many of you know, I have an annual budget. This is an easy way for me to see how much money I plan to make and spend throughout the year, and how that will affect me at any given month throughout this time. If you want to download your own copy to use, check out my post How to Budget – Download My Excel Budget Template

To do things just a little differently, I’ve made a separate tab that is specifically for tracking my passive income streams and retirement savings.

For our retirement savings, this will be easy. I plan to note the gross employment income for my wife and myself, and then record our 401k, 403b, and IRA contributions. This way I can see exactly what percentage of my earnings I’m saving at any given time. I prefer to use gross income over net income because then you don’t have to deal with how to address issues of taxes, union dues, insurance stipends, etc.

Tracking this should mostly be the same throughout the year except for 1) this month when I plan to alter the contribution levels and 2) midyear when we usually get our raises.

For my other passive income streams, I’ll add new rows for each one. Right now, the new bins are as follows:

• Blog income

• Dividend income

• Credit card cash back

• eBay / Craig’s List sales

• Sign-up bonuses

• Stock music licensing

My predictions:

• Blog income will continue to be the most lucrative of my side income.

• Dividend income will ramp up as I tend to funnel more resources into this investment effort.

• I’m pretty sure my cash back total was over $1,000 last year, which made it a very significant part of my passive income strategies (I could probably round up all my old statements to find out). However, I’m not as confident that I’ll be able to pull this off again. Last year we ROCKED every opportunity possible by making every purchase possible with a credit card (things we were already planning to buy of course). For example, one of the larger purchases we made right away in January of last year were two new sets of modern bedroom furniture for our kids. At 2% cash back, we got $100 right off the bat! Although we have a few more large purchases planned this year, we don’t really have the same magnitude of large purchases planned. But in hindsight, that means we’ll be spending less which is a good thing!

• eBay and Craig’s List aren’t really considered passive income I guess because it’s really just selling things around the house – not really a sustainable form of income.  But its nice to make some side cash. Going back to the bedroom furniture example, we did really well selling the old furniture on Craigs List. I asked my wife how much she wanted for them, I added $50 for each set to her price, and then listed them. They both sold within a day! What does that tell me? That I still left money on the table by not asking for more!!

• Sign-up Bonuses will probably lag unless I find some new attractive credit cards to take advantage of.

• I don’t plan to put any additional effort into my stock music effort. If you think writing blog posts takes time, try making recordings!  But what’s already posted will continue to be available for licensing.

What I expect to get out of all of this is to create the most amount of return for the least amount effort. For example, by tracking this information, I might find that putting more effort into my stock music initiative would not return as much income as putting the same (or possibly less) effort into blogging. Time is finite, so I want to really make sure that what I work on will produce the greatest benefit!


Other Bloggers Who Enjoy Making Passive Income:

In case you missed them, here are a few great stories you should check out this weekend:


Carnivals & Mentions:

My Money Design was featured on the following sites this week:

Thanks to everyone for linking to my site and enjoying my posts. I really appreciate your support and hope you continue to visit!


Posts This Week:

Image Credit: Rotten eCard


  1. says

    Hey mate,
    Tracking is so important, at least to me because I’m a numbers nerd. I like to see where I’m making and losing $$. I don’t know about money and the blog as I don’t do any form of advertising right now but once I move my site (any time now) I’ll look into it. I guess something is better than nothing. Thanks for the mention. Mr.CBB
    Canadian Budget Binder recently posted..Get Out of Debt First, Then Focus on SavingMy Profile

    • MMD says

      You’re welcome! Check out Monday’s post and you can see exactly what I plan to do. I will be buying individual stocks.

  2. says

    I’ve already made more on blog income in January that I did all last year, but that isn’t saying much! I hope it continues to grow. Now that we are out of credit card debt and will never be there again, I can start to work the credit companies for rewards and bonuses. Look for a post about how I’m getting a free vacation, coming soon. Thanks for the mention.
    Kim@Eyesonthedollar recently posted..Save Money on Groceries-How to use a Value CardMy Profile

    • MMD says

      It really is! But surprisingly, however, these blog posts get more play then my recordings ever did. Maybe that’s why I put more emphasis on them.

  3. says

    I need to improve a bit in this area as well, but it is hard finding the time (I run my blog,, a REIT, and work a full time job on top being nationally competitive in snowboard racing). I think it may not be the biggest deal to track every cent on a weekly, or even monthly basis. “Quarterly Check Ins/Catch Ups” I call them.

    Snarkfinance recently posted, “Leverage Debt”.


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