I have retired.

I think it would be good to give my definition of retirement before going any further with this post: To me, retirement is having the freedom to do whatever you want without having to worry about the consequences of not getting something done. For example, the freedom to go on a week long car trip without worrying about what is happening at work. Or the freedom to work on an unprofitable hobby for a few weeks without worrying about your income.

Starting today at 5PM, that is what I have. It is a goal I’ve had for a very long time, and one that I never imagined I’d be able to accomplish at age 26, but with the help of my wife and a lot of work on my home business, I made it!

I’ll still be doing some work for Affinity4 / Beliefnet / BN Media (my current employer), but that is mainly because: A) I really enjoy my work, and B) the company has treated me well over the past 5 years and they haven’t found a replacement for me yet.

So what am I going to be doing all day? Well, I have a baby that I’ll be taking care of. I’m sure that will take a fair amount of time. I’m going to be cooking the meals for my family, preparing breakfast in the morning, packing lunch for my wife, that sort of thing. I have a few mobile development opportunities that I’m looking into. I’ll be continuing my “one new website a month” goal. I’d like to start exercising more (who am I trying to kid, I don’t exercise at all right now).

I’d like to point out that retiring wasn’t even remotely possible 2.5 years ago when I got married. I’m now making more off my home business per month than I was per year when I got married. I didn’t make some magic website that instantly made me piles of money. The “secret” to my success is consistently creating new websites that require little to no maintenance, and that each make at least a few dollars per day in revenue.

My point is, this is something anyone can do. If you can’t program, buy a book on PHP and learn. Pick an easy project and do something. It doesn’t matter if your code isn’t ideal and your page is ugly, just build something.

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8-bit Sprites

8-bit Sprites

For my website-of-the-month for July, I’ve decided to turn my newly gained obsession with Perler beads into a full blown website.

8-bit Sprites, just launched, is going to feature a new Perler bead sprite every week. Each sprite post includes instructions on how to make it on your own, or you can leave a comment for a chance to win it.

This site was a ton of fun to make. Aside from making a couple dozen Perler sprites already, I also wrote some fun code to make the maintenance of this website easier:

First, I wrote a page that lets me fairly easily create an XML document that defines the colors and positions of the beads required for each design. It still takes a few minutes to manually translate an image into an XML document, but it is much easier than doing it completely by hand.

Next, I wrote a custom WordPress plugin that reads this XML document. It counts how many beads of each color are needed, how big of a pegboard you’ll need, and generates a pattern image that can be used by anyone that wants to create the sprite on their own. This is really cool because it lets me add new features to the patterns without having to update old posts.

The plugin uses custom shortcodes to make it super easy to create my weekly posts. One shortcode simply takes the path to the XML document as a parameter, and uses that to display all the details about the sprite. Another shortcode makes it easy to include consistent contest rules/guidelines on each post. It also uses the post date to automatically close the contest each week.

I already have a thousand ideas on how to make this site better, but I wanted to get the bare minimum done so I’d at least get it out the door and published before the end of the month.

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2011 Goal Update (June)

This is my sixth monthly report on how I’m doing with my goals for 2011:

  • Read the Book of Mormon again. I’m going to need to do a several hour reading marathon to catch up.
  • Earn as much from my side business as I do from my day job. June went well. I earned more in June than I did in May, even though June has one less day than May. Still on track!
  • Build a dining room table. Build a piano keyboard desk. Build something. Pretty soon I’ll have tons of time during the day to play with my tools, so this should get knocked out either in July or August.
  • Launch twelve new websites. Launched .htaccess Generator. I’m not very satisfied with it. I used a free script I found and improved on, but it is still pretty ugly and missing some of the functionality I want it to have. I’ll put more time into this down the road if it starts getting some traffic.

I’ve also been working on a few goals that I didn’t originally blog about:

  • Max out my 401k and Roth IRA contributions. The 401k is set up and automatically funding. I expect to have it maxed out in about a month. I’ve also been filling up our Roth IRAs.
  • Start an email newsletter. I’ve been planning on doing a dating tips newsletter to go along with The Awkward Turtle site, but I have a new site in mind that I’m pretty excited about and would work well with a newsletter, so maybe I’ll do that instead.
  • Create a game for mobile phones. Haven’t put any time into this yet.

Goals I’ve accomplished this year:

  • Become a dad. I’m a dad! Yay! My daughter Anna was born in late May.
  • Publish my first book. I’ve published my first book (paperback, Kindle, and Nook). Took me a couple years, and I already found 2 typos (grr!), but at least it is finally in print.
  • Paid my taxes. I make money from a lot of places which makes my taxes really complicated, so getting this finished was awesome. I also started paying quarterly taxes because my self-employed income has gotten pretty high. It is uber painful to write a big check every couple months to the IRS, but oh well, that is the cost of making money..
  • Get out of debt. We’ve paid off the last of Becca’s student loans which means we are now debt free! Yay!
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2011 Goal Update (May)

This is my fifth monthly report on how I’m doing with my goals for 2011:

  • Read the Book of Mormon again. Getting better at this. I’ve been reading to my little girl so that is helping me catch up some.
  • Earn as much from my side business as I do from my day job. May was the best month of earnings that I have ever had in my life. I was very blessed with this extra money in the same month that my first child was born, which helped a lot in buying lots of fun baby stuff. This month so far hasn’t been as good as last month, but that is to be expected because I’ve been neglecting things a bit.
  • Build a dining room table. Build a piano keyboard desk. Build something. My dad is in town so I’m going to get him to show me how to use a router. Once I get some practice on that, I’m going to build something incredibly stupendously awesome. Like a shelf or something. ;)
  • Launch twelve new websites. I just got the Fake Mail Generator working again, which I’m counting as my site for May. It is a site I already had, but it has been broken for years (and oddly enough still earning ridiculous amounts of money).

I’ve also been working on a few goals that I didn’t originally blog about:

  • Max out my 401k and Roth IRA contributions. The 401k is set up and automatically funding. I expect to have it maxed out in about 2 months. I’ve also been filling up our Roth IRAs.
  • Start an email newsletter. I’ve picked a topic. I’m going to make a newsletter for The Awkward Turtle that will include funny date mishaps, date ideas, and advertisements helpful product reviews.
  • Create a game for mobile phones. Haven’t put any time into this yet.

Goals I’ve accomplished this year:

  • Become a dad. I’m a dad! Yay! My daughter Anna was born in late May.
  • Publish my first book. I’ve published my first book (paperback, Kindle, and Nook). Took me a couple years, and I already found 2 typos (grr!), but at least it is finally in print.
  • Paid my taxes. I make money from a lot of places which makes my taxes really complicated, so getting this finished was awesome.
  • Get out of debt. We’ve paid off the last of Becca’s student loans which means we are now debt free! Yay!
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2011 Goal Update (April)

This is my fourth monthly report on how I’m doing with my goals for 2011:

  • Read the Book of Mormon again. I’m about as far behind as I was last month, so at least I’m not slipping further behind.
  • Earn as much from my side business as I do from my day job. Earnings increased this past month to put me on track for meeting this goal. I’m still not very optimistic about it though, especially with my baby coming any day now.
  • Build a dining room table. Build a piano keyboard desk. Build something. Took some time on a nice day to at least play with my tools. Cut some boards, played with my router, realized I don’t really know how to use a router…
  • Launch twelve new websites. I got held up waiting for approval from a third party service that is going to be used by this month’s website, so I didn’t quite get to finish it. It is close. I would have finished it today but I’m actually on a Boy Scout campout. This month’s website has a lot of potential, so I may skip a new website in May and just work on making this new one really good.

I’ve also been working on a few goals that I didn’t originally blog about:

  • Max out my 401k and Roth IRA contributions. The 401k is set up and automatically funding. We haven’t made any Roth IRA contributions this year because of our larger than expected tax bill. Maybe next month.
  • Start an email newsletter. I’ve picked a topic. I’m going to make a newsletter for The Awkward Turtle that will include funny date mishaps, date ideas, and advertisements helpful product reviews.
  • Create a game for mobile phones. Haven’t put any time into this yet.

Goals I’ve accomplished this year:

  • Publish my first book. I’ve published my first book (paperback, Kindle, and Nook). Took me a couple years, and I already found 2 typos (grr!), but at least it is finally in print.
  • Paid my taxes. I make money from a lot of places which makes my taxes really complicated, so getting this finished was awesome.
  • Get out of debt. We’ve paid off the last of Becca’s student loans which means we are now debt free! Yay!
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2011 Goal Update (March)

This is my third monthly report on how I’m doing with my goals for 2011:

  • Read the Book of Mormon again. Still really behind. Caught up some, but then went on vacation and then work took over my life for a week, so back to being really behind.
  • Earn as much from my side business as I do from my day job. Earnings have made a major recovery, and at the moment it looks like I might actually reach this goal by the end of the year.
  • Build a dining room table. Build a piano keyboard desk. Build something. It is finally warming up outside, so soon I’ll be able to play with my tools. I’m going to start ultra simple and create a basic shelf for my wife that has a nice beveled edge. Should be easy.
  • Launch twelve new websites. Barely got this month’s site done in time, but here it is: LocalWeather.me. It is an extremely minimalist weather site that automatically detects your location. It doesn’t even have an input box to find weather for a specific city. The initial page load uses GeoLite City to find your location, and then uses navigator.geolocation to ask for a more accurate location. I need to clean up the JS some, but it does a few neat tricks, like figuring out your timezone offset so it can display local time even though my data feed is all in UTC.

I’ve also been working on a few goals that I didn’t originally blog about:

  • Max out my 401k and Roth IRA contributions. The 401k is set up and automatically funding. We haven’t made any Roth IRA contributions this year because of our larger than expected tax bill. Maybe next month.
  • Start an email newsletter. I’ve picked a topic. I’m going to make a newsletter for The Awkward Turtle that will include funny date mishaps, date ideas, and advertisements helpful product reviews.
  • Create a game for mobile phones. Haven’t put any time into this yet.

Goals I’ve accomplished this year:

  • Publish my first book. I’ve published my first book (paperback and Kindle). Took me a couple years, and I already found 2 typos (grr!), but at least it is finally in print.
  • Paid my taxes. I make money from a lot of places which makes my taxes really complicated, so getting this finished was awesome.
  • Get out of debt. We’ve paid off the last of Becca’s student loans which means we are now debt free! Yay!
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