The New Year is here, and like everyone else, I want to start it out by listing a few goals. I’m a big proponent of SMART goals. In case you aren’t familiar with the SMART acronym, it stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. I am going to split these goals into Personal, Financial, and blog-related. I think it’s important to create goals for the different facets of your life, but at the same time, you don’t want to create too many goals that you lose focus and achieve nothing. Everybody has a friend who has been making the same goal for the last 30 years. This isn’t what my goals are about.


My major, personal, non-financial goal for the year is to pass the CPA exam and become a certified CPA. I want to pass the exams by June 2011 and be certified before the end of the year. I have a ways to go here, but if I focus on studying and taking the exams, I can do it.

At this point, I only want to set the one major personal goal because I want it to be my focus. In the next five years I’ll likely get married, get a dog, and do other exciting things. But at this point, I just need to buckle down and focus on the CPA.


With so many things I need to do financially, it’s really going to be about prioritizing.


My income at my job is stable, and I’ll likely see a raise of approximately 5%. There’s no goal here, because, frankly, it’s out of my control.

I do, however, also generate side income through websites that I own (not this blog). In 2010 this income was approximately $5,000. During 2011, my goal is to bump this up to at least $1,000/month. Generating a decent chunk of side income will go a long way to achieving my other financial goals.


During 2011 I will contribute the max $5k to my Roth IRA. Even though I have a good amount of debt, it’s important to continue to make my Roth IRA contributions because any year I don’t make them is an opportunity that is lost forever. It’s unlikely that I’ll make any investments beyond this amount, unless I really kick up my side income.

Paying Debt

I currently owe $31k on the student loans that my parents took out to pay for my education. My parents will continue to pay the standard monthly payment on this, which means that any money I throw on top will go directly toward paying down the principal balance. My goal is to cut my student loan debt in half during 2011, so let’s round down and say I want this balance to be under $15k. The more side income I make, the sooner I can make this happen and the more I’ll end up paying off.

Net Worth

My net worth is currently -$4k. A large chunk of the assets, my investments, I don’t have much direct control over. I won’t be able to determine how the stock market does over the next year. I’m going to set a goal of having a positive $10k net worth by the end of 2011. If you add the $15k of less debt and $5k Roth IRA contribution, I should technically make this goal positive $15k, but since I can’t control the market returns, I want to make it a goal attainable by my actions. This is really just an add-on goal anyways, since the bulk of this is covered by my debt and investing goals.

Other Savings

Right now, I’m not quite sure what I’m saving for. At some point I’m going to need to buy another used car. I will also likely get married within five years and buy a house (maybe) within ten years or so. While I will be savings some money for these long-term expected expenditures, I don’t have any specific goals set for these at this point. Maybe half-way through 2011 I’ll update with some more specific goals here.

The Blog

I am writing this blog for two reasons: It keeps me accountable and I enjoy learning, writing and sharing information about personal finance. I’d like to see the blog grow so that I can interact and share with more people. It’s for these reasons that I’ve decided to join the Yakezie Network challenge. In case you’re not familiar with Yakezie, it’s a network of personal finance blogs written by people who are looking to improve their own personal finances, and at the same time, improve the lives of others. By joining the challenge I will push myself to write more and improve the reach of Hacking The Bank. In order to be able to join the network I need to improve HTB’s Alexa rank from 6,945,180 to under 200,000. If you’d like to help me out with that, you should download the Alexa toolbar. For my part, I’ll be updating the blog a lot more often and really focusing on the content you want. My goal is to have at least 100 posts by the end of 2011, with at least 25 of those being reviews about personal finance books or services.

I hope you’ll stick around with me for 2011 and we’ll see what we can do together. I think if we both work toward our goals intelligently, we can make major things happen.

Best of luck to you in the coming year and beyond,