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.

My 2012 Personal Finance Goals

I’m expecting big things for 2012. Most importantly, I’m going to be preparing for the end of civilization. I’ll be freezing Furbies and other great human accomplishments that I want to be preserved. However, I think it would be prudent to plan for my future. I know, I know…there’s a 99% chance that civilization will end, but I still shouldn’t ignore the 1% chance that somehow we avert disaster and survive.

Similar to last year, I’m going to break my goals into three separate categories: financial, personal, and blog-related. Since this is a personal finance blog, I tend to focus my goals around the financial aspects of my life.

Finance

#1: Save $5,000 toward new car
Right now I have $1,000 in my car savings account. I’m expecting to need a new car sometime in the next year so I want to save an additional $5,000 toward the cause. Used car prices are quite high right now, but I’m hoping they drop a bit as new car sales have picked up. If used car prices haven’t come back down, I may find myself looking to buy a used car. With only having $6k to go toward it I’d need to take out a car loan. I haven’t decided how I feel about that having made the strides to conquer my debt that I have. The benefit of a car loan is that it would enable me to manage my cash flow better, which is something I need while I’m young. I haven’t built up a large pile of cash, but I have good future earnings potential and a lot of big short-term expenses.

#2: Save $5,000 toward wedding
I got engaged in 2011, and I plan to get married in the summer of 2013. This year I’m going to save $5k toward the wedding as I wait to get a better idea of what financial help we’ll receive and how much the wedding will cost.

#3: Save $5,000 toward honeymoon
I’m going to save up to pay for the honeymoon after we get married. We aren’t sure on the destination, but wherever we go, it’s going to be good (read: not cheap).

#4: Save $5,000 to contribute to my Roth IRA
I’ve contributed the maximum to my IRA each year since 2008 and that isn’t going to stop anytime soon. I’ll be making the maximum contribution again this year.

#5: Save at least $10,000 toward a house
If we could afford to move into a house today we would. House prices are low, as are interest rates. However, houses are still pretty expensive here in California and we don’t have the money saved (nor do we have the income to qualify). So, we’re stuck dreaming for now. But until then, I’m going to be saving toward that house. This year I have a lot of other expenses to save for (car and wedding), but I’m going to try to save $10k toward the house. And then next year, I’ll really be throwing money at our house savings.

#6: Earn an average of $1,500 per month in side income
Last year my goal was $1,000/mo and I made it. This year I’m increasing that to push myself more.

As you can see, the total savings goals of $30,000 on my $54,000 base salary is quite aggressive. But after last year’s progress I figure that it’s doable, especially if I’m able to increase my side income as I’m hoping.

Blog-Related

#7: Publish an average of 5 posts per month
Last year I utterly failed in updating this blog. I really want to make time to make it into something I can be proud of. I need to update it with valuable posts more often.

#8: Monetize my blog
It’s time to make an effort to monetize this blog. However, I won’t sell-out. I won’t advertise products that I don’t agree with or support. I also won’t fill the website up with ads; I’ll keep the site clean. No doubt this will harm my earnings potential from the site, but it’s the way it’s going to be.

Personal

#9: Lose 52 pounds
This works out to be a pound per week, which is a caloric deficit of 500 calories per day. I’ve always been good at shedding weight quickly over 2 weeks or so, but I’ve never been good at sustaining the drive and continuing for long periods of time. With a goal of losing 52 pounds in a year, I’m going to have to be diligent. But even more important, I’m going to have to be able to pick myself up and get back on the horse. There will be times when I have a slice of cheesecake or a piece of pizza. The important thing is that I don’t let it spiral away. Taking five steps forward and one step back still moves me forward four steps. To help me get there, I’ll be weighing myself each Sunday morning. I’ll be graphing my weight on a piece of posterboard. I’ll also be rewarding myself each 10 pounds that I lose. Unlike previous diets, I won’t be “rewarding” myself with a pizza or ice cream. I’ll find something to reward myself with that costs $50-100.

#10: Track and report on my progress every month
I’m going to do a better job this year of tracking and reporting my progress on my goals. I’ll work on a new template for reporting my progress besides just posting my balance sheet. I really want to hold myself accountable for sticking with all of my goals. Even if I gain 10 pounds for the year I’m going to be tracking and reporting that failure. Please, help me out by holding me accountable.

I think that these 10 goals are going to keep me busy for the year and really push me in the right direction. Assuming I meet my savings goals I’ll finish the year with a net worth of approximately $65,000. If I’m able to increase my net worth $30,000 and shed 52 pounds I’ll consider the year extremely successful. I think you achieve the most out of life by setting aggressive goals and pursuing them with passion, and that’s exactly what I intend on doing. I hope you’ll join me on my journey this year.

Will Personal Finance

2011 Year-End Balance Sheet & Wrap-Up

At the beginning of 2011 I laid out a number of specific goals that I wanted to accomplish. I broke my goals up into the categories of personal, financial, and blog-related. In order to maintain my focus, I was sure not to pile on too many goals. I’ve noticed that sometimes I tend to stretch myself too thin while trying to work toward too many goals. I think that focusing on a small number of measurable goals helped me to achieve what I was able to over the past year.

YE 2011 Personal Balance Sheet

For personal goals I decided that I wanted to pass the CPA exams and become licensed during the year. With a lot of hard work I was able to achieve this and I am not a certified CPA. I also made a number of other changes in my personal life that I knew I wanted to accomplish, but I wasn’t sure of when they would happen and I didn’t set them out specifically as a goal for 2011. During 2011 I switched employers. The hours at my previous place of employment were unsustainable, and I had to make the move. I sacrificed $4,500 in salary to make the move, but it’s been well worth it. I’m much happier where I am and I have a lot more control over my career and the work I’m doing. I also got engaged to my girlfriend of seven years. With an expected wedding date of summer 2013, you can bet that saving for the wedding and honeymoon is going to now be a short-term goal of mine. We also got a puppy during the year, which may increase my need for a slightly bigger emergency fund.

When it comes to my financial goals for the year, I think I’m going to take a second to twist around and pat myself on the back. For my stable income I had hoped for a 5% raise. I actually saw my income rise from $51,000 to $58,500 at my job. Then I switched employers and took a pay cut down to $54,000. This ends up being a little better than a 5% increase in pay. But more importantly, my hours have fallen quite a bit, meaning I’m very satisfied with the progress I made over the year.

In addition to the income from my job, my side income significantly impacts my ability to reach my other goals. Because my income from my job covers my living expenses and a base-line of savings, any additional amount I’m able to earn is able to go directly to savings. At the beginning of 2011 I set the goal of earning $1,000/mo in side income. I don’t have the final numbers, but that’s about exactly what I ended up earning for the year on average. I would have liked to beat this goal, but I guess that will have to wait until 2012. I am still very satisfied with having simply met this goal since it went a long way to helping me meet my other goals.

I met my investing goal by contribution $5,000 to my Roth IRA during the year. I was also proactive with my investments and got rid of a majority of my individual stocks. I always knew that I should be holding most of my investments in index funds, but I still couldn’t resist the temptation to invest in individual stocks. This year I finally took the plunge and now the money in my Roth IRA is invested in a diversified portfolio of index funds.

The progress with my debt is what I’m most proud of. I originally set out to reduce the balance of my student loans below $15,000 during the year. However, I made such big strides toward this goal, that I achieved it in the summer and then continued on to pay off all of the debt by November, exactly one year after I started making payments on the loans.

Adding up all of my individual financial goals, I was thinking I’d end up with a net worth of $15,000, but made $10,000 my goal. However, I tore through both of those numbers I ended 2011 with a net worth of over $34,000.

Although I had a lot of success with my financial progress, I fell far short of meeting the goals for this blog. I came nowhere near making the 100 blog posts or 25 reviews that I wanted. I can’t help but feel that I’ve really dropped the ball on this one. For 2012 I’ll be aiming to spruce the blog up and keep it fresh with content. To do so, I’m going to make sure that I make goals that I can measure myself against throughout the year. I think that having a number of smaller goals will allow me to better track my progress and hold myself accountable.

Make sure to check out my goals for 2012, which I’ll be posting soon.