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.
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.