Evaluating my 2012 Progress

A goal really doesn’t mean much if you don’t measure yourself against it. I think that this is what often differentiates those “New Year’s Resolutions” from real goals. So in my traditional fashion, I have to evaluate the progress I made in 2012 against the goals I had set out for myself. Below are my original goals and how I managed to do.

Finance

#1: Save $5,000 toward new car
I was able to fully meet my car savings goal and in October I purchased a used 2003 Infiniti G35. The car had a hefty amount of miles on it (140k+), which made its price align with my savings. I’ve been very pleased with the move and the car is a fantastic upgrade from my 1999 Ford Escort.

#2 & 3: Save $10,000 toward wedding/honeymoon
We saved more than $10,000 toward our wedding during the year. In addition to our own savings, we received some money from our parents, and we have also spent a decent chunk on deposits for photographer, venue, DJ, caterer, and wedding coordinator. At this time I believe that we’ve saved enough for the wedding and at most we may need to throw a couple of thousand extra at the wedding but it shouldn’t be anything major.

#4: Save $5,000 to contribute to my Roth IRA
Not only did I save the $5k toward my IRA, but we also made the $5k contribution toward my fiance’s.

#5: Save at least $10,000 toward a house
This was definitely a stretch goal and it ended up being too much of a stretch for us to achieve. However, in September we had had nothing saved toward a house and at that time I had hoped to get $2,000 saved by the end of the year. We ended up saving $4,000 by the end of the year, which gives us some great momentum going into 2013!

#6: Earn an average of $1,500 per month in side income
I did even better than expected during 2012! I was able to bring in just over $2,000 gross per month from my side business. This extra income is key to use achieving our financials goals.

Blog-Related

#7: Publish an average of 5 posts per month
Some months I hit this goal and other months I failed hard. But in the end, when it comes down to reaching my financials goals or blogging about them, I have to choose reaching my financials goals. It’s tough to juggle my day job, side job, and personal life. Sometimes I have to force myself to stop working and enjoy life.

#8: Monetize my blog
I actually did well with this goal for the first few months, but then I made the decision to remove ads from the blog. Until I have the traffic that will bring in large sums of money I don’t really want to clutter up the website with a bunch of ads.

Personal

#9: Lose 52 pounds
I did extremely poorly against this goal and my efforts are going to have to be a lot more consistent during 2013 so that I can fit into my wedding dress…err…my wedding vest.

#10: Track and report on my progress every month
Some months I talked about each goal, and others I didn’t. When my weight loss wasn’t going as well as expected I kinda stopped talking about it. But I always kept the sidebar tracking updated each month.

At the beginning of the year I expected my savings goals to help bring me to $65k net worth and I made it. This number includes my fiance’s Roth IRA, but I think it’s still valid for two reasons:
1. We contributed $5k to it this year, so it’s really only a $10k addition from our combining finances.
2. We saved $10k toward our wedding that is now being cancelled out when calculating our Net Worth (Wedding Savings = Wedding Liability).

I’m currently working on putting together my goals for 2013 and am looking forward to sharing them with you shortly. Let me know in the comments how you did during 2012 and what your expectations are for 2013.

Will Personal Finance

2012 Personal Finance Goals – Midyear Update

This post combined my normal balance sheet post with a midyear update toward all of my 2012 personal finance goals. Here is my YTD balance sheet:

June 2012 Personal Balance Sheet

You can also view my balance sheet for each quarter since September 2010.

Overall I’ve been making good progress toward my financial goals (as you’ll see below), but I haven’t been achieving my personal goals related to health or the blog.

Finance

#1: Save $5,000 toward new car
I’ve managed to save $3,221 this year toward a new car, which is 58.6% of my goal for the year. I feel comfortable with this amount. My cars has shown a few issues over time, but with $4,221 saved (started the year with $1,000 saved) and I am confident that if my car were to have a major issue I could go and purchase a used 2005 Ford Focus or something. Losing my car will no longer be a financial emergency.

#2 & 3: Save $5,000 toward wedding and $5,000 toward honeymoon
I’ve combined these two wedding-related goals and have managed to saved $5,500 toward them, which is 55% of my goal for the year. I would like to be further ahead on this because the wedding isn’t going to be cheap, but I just haven’t gotten there.

#4: Save $5,000 to contribute to my Roth IRA
I made a $2,000 contribution and have saved an additional $265 for my Roth. This goal is technically below the 50% mark at 46%, but I am fine with this because I’ve also started contributing to my Roth 401(k) at work. I have $1,276 in my Roth 401(k), which puts me well over the 50% mark if you combine the two. I still plan on making the full $5k contribution to my Roth IRA, but I just wanted to clarify that I’m not concerned about being below 50% for this goal.

#5: Save at least $10,000 toward a house
I haven’t managed to make any progress toward saving for a house. I was hoping that I could complete my other goals by August and then really work toward saving for a house, but I’m not sure if that will happen.

#6: Earn an average of $1,500 per month in side income
My side income was doing well, but has had a few setbacks in the past couple of months. I think that has contributed some to my lack of progress in net worth. I continue to work on this as much as I can.

Blog-Related

#7: Publish an average of 5 posts per month
I’ve been doing great keeping up with this except for last month while I was on vacation in Italy and Switzerland. I plan to keep this up and exceed this number in the future. Ideally I’d like to be posting 10-15 times per month.

#8: Monetize my blog
I haven’t done a great job of monetizing the blog. I still have a way to go before there is real potential here.

Personal

#9: Lose 52 pounds
I’ve utterly failed at this, losing only 8 pounds for the year. While 8 pounds is obviously better than zero, it’s nowhere near the 26 I should have lost by now to reach my goal. With my wedding a year a way, it’s time to really focus on this one. If I can lose an additional 20 to 25 pounds by the end of the year I’ll be very satisfied.

#10: Track and report on my progress every month
I’ve done a great job of tracking my progress and keeping myself responsible. I’ll keep this up for the rest of the year because it helps. It helps the most when I’m failing because it reminds me of my goals and where I’m slacking.

Overall, while I’m not surpassing my goals like I was last year, I’m making good progress overall toward my financial, personal and blog goals. There’s still work to do, but it’s all good stuff.

Why Weight Loss Belongs on a Personal Finance Blog

This blog chronicles my journey to financial independence and provides a place to discuss personal finance topics that interest me. When I decided to set the goal of losing 52 pounds in 52 weeks, I knew it would be a big undertaking. It would require me to stick to a healthy plan for a long-period of time. Dieting for a couple of weeks is no fun, and it actually has a low track record for providing sustainable weight loss. I knew it was something I wanted to do. However, I wasn’t sure if I would post about it on this blog.

I’ve always thought that there was a correlation between being healthy and wealthy. It makes complete sense. Someone who is able to take control of their personal finances is likely able to control their food intake and activity levels. Someone who consciously makes the right decisions when it Weight Loss and Personal Financecomes to food and exercise, is also more likely to make the right decisions when it comes to finances. The main ingredient, in both instances, is having a goal and being conscious about how your actions will impact your ability to reach that goal. Nearly everyone knows how to lose weight: consume fewer calories then you expend. Nearly Everybody also knows how to increase their net worth: spend less than you earn. But just because we KNOW how to do it, doesn’t mean we’ll do it. If it was just a matter of knowing what to do, we’d all be healthy and wealthy.

A study from Ohio State University in 2005 found that Americans tend to build wealth as they lose weight. This makes complete sense to me because they both rely on the same two characteristics I listed above. The study was conducted using BMI to determine the health of respondents, and was based on 12 surveys conducted between 1985 and 2000. In the study, people who lost a small amount of weight didn’t show a significant difference in wealth, but those who lost larger amounts of weight had more dramatic changes in wealth. “For example, when a typical young person decreased his or her BMI by one point, wealth increased by only $234. But when a person lost enough weight to go from the middle of the overweight category (BMI 27.5) to the middle of the normal category (BMI 21.7), wealth increased by an average of $4,085.”

Clearly, the data isn’t telling us that if we lose 10 pounds we’re going to get wealthier. However, the two go hand in hand. I think in large part, it’s simply due to the behaviors established with losing weight are easily used to increase wealth. I would also bet that there is discrimination against overweight people in the workplace, even if it’s not prevalent in all areas of work. As you become healthier, you’re also going to have fewer medical bills on average. The savings on medical bills or life insurance could be enough to set you ahead of the pack over time.

It is for these reasons that I’ve decided to include my goal of 52 pounds on this blog and report on my success or failure. I won’t be posting weight loss articles, healthy recipes, or any of that stuff. I’ll simply be reporting my progress each month. Plus, most importantly, this just helps keep myself accountable.