Our 2013 Personal Finance Goals

I was able to reach most of my personal finance goals last year, and I’m expecting big things again in 2013. My blog and personal goals didn’t go quite as well. Hopefully this year I can do a more well-rounded job of reaching my goals.

Now that my fiancé is working and we’ve combined our money we’re obviously able to save more toward our goals. Last year I was able to save $29,000 toward my $35,000 in goals. This included four months of combined finances. This year our goals total $40,000 and we are absolutely aiming to reach them.

When determining my goals for 2013 we first had to assess where we wanted to be in the future.

20 Years: I’d like to be working for myself, have a a couple of kids, and own my home outright. I want to have the flexibility in my career to spend time with my kids and be involved in their schools and activities.

10 years: Most likely have one child by now, with a second on the way. To accomplish this we’ll need to have my monthly cash outflows under control. We will want to have a chunk of cash for emergencies as well as made progress paying down my home.

5 Years: Ready to purchase a home with a standard 20% down payment. Will begin preparing to expand the family in the next two years from this point. We want to have at least $100k in retirement savings regardless of market performance between now and then.

1-2 Years: Purchase a used car for my fiancé. Continue to max Roth IRAs and save an additional amount toward retirement.

Only after understanding where we wanted to get could we focus on the steps that we need to take in 2013 to get us on the correct path. I created a quick 5-year projection of savings needed to reach these goals…

5 year savings projections

Obviously these projections will change, but it gives us a good idea of how much we’ll need to save in the next five years to reach our goals.

Finance

#1: Save $8,000 for a car
I purchased a car in 2012, and the end of my fiancé’s car is drawing nearer. We will definitely be purchasing here a car in the next two years, and most likely we’ll be buying her a car this year. We’d most likely to be looking for something used under $10k (hopefully around $8k) so our goal for the year is going to be to save $8k toward her car.

#2: Save $2,000 for travel
We believe that we have our honeymoon taken care of, but we’re likely going to be making a short trip within the U.S. so we’re going to save $2k for that. Depending on the cost of our honeymoon, this fund may end up being used to fund excess expenses from the honeymoon.

#3: Save $16,000 toward a house
We don’t expect to be able to afford the house we want until we’re 30, but to do so we have to start saving big money now. At the end of 2012 we had $4,000 in savings toward our house and during 2013 we want to save an additional $16,000, to give us $20,000 total house savings. If we were to reach all of our goals during the year, additional savings would go toward the house.

#4: Save $11,000 to contribute to our Roth IRAs
I’ve contributed the maximum to my IRA each year since 2008 and my fiancé has done the same since 2010. This isn’t going to stop this year. With the increased 2013 IRA contribution of $5,5000, we will be saving a total of $11,000 toward our Roth IRAs.

#5: Contribute $3,000 to my Roth 401(k)
To reach our retirement goals we need to be saving beyond the Roth IRA limits. It’s annoying that IRA limits are so low, but that’s the way it is. So this year I’ll contribute $3k to my Roth 401(k).

#6: Earn an average of $2,000 per month in side income
My side income is crucial to us being able to reach our goals. Without it, we would not reach the goals that we’ve created for ourselves. Last year I earned slightly over $2,000 per month in side income, and my goal is to do the same in 2013. I don’t track this monthly, but it’s something I calculate at the end of the year.

We are looking to save $40,000 on a combined annual income of about $100,000. I think that this is doable, particularly if I can keep my side income up.

Blog-Related

#7: Publish at least three posts per month
Last year I didn’t reach my goal of five posts per month average. This year I am altering the goal ti be at least three posts per month. While I decreased the number of monthly posts, I also changed the requirement from average per month to simply a monthly total. That means my goal is also to evenly space out content so that some months don’t have one post and others eight. Round-ups of other blogs do not count toward this total.

#8: Publish one review per month
Each month, I want to review at least one book or one service. In 2011 I published a number of reviews, but there weren’t many at all in 2012.

Personal

#9: Weigh myself on more than 300 days
I realize that I may occasionally forget, or I may be out of town, but throughout the year I will weigh myself at least 300 times using my new Withings WiFi Body Scale. This will consistently keep me aware of my weight. This new scale tracks my weight and body fat % and transmits the measurements over WiFi to the online tracking dashboard. It makes it easy to track my weight throughout the year because I won’t have to write anything down; it will do it all for me.

#10: Lose 30 pounds by June 30; 45 pounds for the year
My current weight is 243. That was tough to say, but it shouldn’t be. It’s an unbiased number that reflects reality. Our wedding is mid-July, and I’d like to shed 30 pounds in the six months between now and June 30, 2013. That’s an average of five pounds per month, or just over one pound per week. I think this is doable if I stick to it. Last year my goal was to lose one pound per week and I only lost 0.20 pounds per week, but that’s because I didn’t consistently work on it. With the wedding within sight I’m as motivated as ever to lose the weight. I’m going to start the year following Weight Watchers as I lose the easier weight. I’ll drop my allowed points as I lose the weight, and when I plateau, I’ll move to dieting “more hardcore” to each the goal. After the wedding I’ll continue to work to lose weight, but I won’t be going as hardcore. During the year I will be purchasing a laptop at some point, and I won’t allow myself to purchase a new laptop until I’ve lost 20 pounds.

#11: Go to the gym or run at least twelve times per month
The weekly goal is to exercise three times per week, which ends up being around twelve times per month. For goal tracking purposes, we’re going to go with twelve times per month.

#12: Post my health report each month
Sometimes nothing works better than humiliation, and after shirking my responsibilities last year on my weight loss, I’m going to ensure that each month I post a health update, which will include my weight graph and a scanned copy of my exercise calendar showing days worked out. If I don’t post this, PLEASE call me out on it. Don’t let me get away with ignoring it!

Conclusion

Man, that’s a lot of goals! I think just tracking everything is going to keep me super busy. If I’m able to reach my financial, blog, and personal goals during the year, I will consider it to be a very successful year. I’m hoping you’ll follow along and hold me accountable.

Wishing you the best success in 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.

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