How did we do on our New Year Resolutions?
Last year, I’ve compiled a list of goals and resolutions for 2014 to hit by the end of the year. Some of the goals were financial, and some personal. Now it’s time to revisit them, and find out if we did in fact hit our New Year resolutions this year!
1. Invest 30% of our income – HIT!
Our goal was to save 30% of our after tax income towards investing. Basically, every month we were to move 30% of our paychecks into special savings account and invest these funds. Also, any of the dividends or investments cash flow were to be reinvested – moved into the same account and not be touched for consumption. Basically, we wanted to live on 70% of our income.
I’m glad to say that every single month we did this without failing once. In fact, we’ve bumped it to 33% halfway through the year just to keep things a bit more challenging. On top of it, we’ve managed to increase our mortgage payment by 10% and to set aside money for a car in case our car decides to call it quits on us.
What really worked for us is budgeting our monthly expenses, avoiding frivolous spending, and sticking to the plan. While we didn’t live like monks, we always thought twice before pulling out the bank card.
2. Update my blog on a weekly basis – HIT!
I’ve been rambling about money online for over a year now. Every week I feel the urge to post something. Sometimes rather philosophical, something instructional hoping it will help somebody who is in the similar situation. The subject of money is considered taboo for the most part and people don’t freely talk about it. Online though you can talk about anything you want with like-minded individuals all day long, and I’m glad I can contribute to the global conversation about personal finance.
These are my five top posts of the year:
Do Olympic athletes earn a lot of money? (most traffic)
Financial Milestones By Age 30 (most hate mail) – featured in Globe and Mail
Why I don’t want to buy a new car (most comments) – featured in Globe and Mail
My favorite blogs
At the same time, I’ve really enjoyed reading some excellent blogs out there on the subject of personal finance. It’s fantastic that people are willing to talk about money online so freely, and give excellent advice without asking anything in return:
Budgets are Sexy – most entertaining blog about personal finance
Freedom Thirty Five – excellent blog about alternative investing
Financial Diffraction – most down-to-earth blog in personal finance universe
Asset Grinder – blog of somebody who actually achieved financial independence and living it
Enemy of Debt – excellent blog about getting out of debt
3: Lose 50 lbs. of weight – FAIL!
Unfortunately, I’m nowhere near the results I’ve wanted.
I’ve managed to drop 15 lbs of weight by avoiding high carb products like bread and pasta, but overall lost focus on exercise portion of the goal. All the stereotypes about deciding to hit the gym on a regular basis and giving up in few weeks later turned into reality for me. Oh, this makes me a sad panda.
4: Read a new book every two weeks – HIT!
To be honest, this wasn’t the best goal on the list. Reading books is an excellent way to learn new things and entertain myself without TV or video games, but setting a goal of reading a certain number of books was a bit dumb of me, I think. It became a race of quantity, not quality.
Yes, I’ve read some excellent books this year, but I didn’t like having deadlines around them. It became a bit of a chore as opposed to being an enjoyable hobby.
Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort. This book was later turned into a movie by the same name starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family by Nicholas Pileggi
The Behavior Gap by Carl Richards. Brilliant book that discusses how most people miss out on great returns by making some rather stupid things with their investments.
The Richest Man in Babylon by George Samuel Clason.
In future, I’ll just stick to enjoying books without setting goals.
5: Practice “selective ignorance” – WORK IN PROGRESS!
The goal here was to stop consuming unnecessary information. This includes following news stories, visiting news websites, listening to most of the radio stations. I think I’m reaching a point when I can actually feel the overload of information in my life, and how it starts to affect me.
I’ve stopped my daily routine of checking news stories altogether, and if it wasn’t for occasional diving into economic and investing news, I could say I don’t follow news at all.
My cell phone for the most part is on silent after the work day ends. I don’t check Facebook or Twitter messages, and instead check them on a weekly basis, along with my blog comments.
I’ve noticed that I became calmer and take more pleasure in everyday activities. Even shoveling snow or washing dishes can be quite pleasurable if you solely focus on them without listening to radio or watching the news on TV. In fact, it becomes a meditation of sorts.
Goals and New Year Resolutions for 2015:
And now it’s time to set some goals for ourselves for this year.
1. Invest 35% of our after tax income + reinvest all dividends
I’d like to slightly increase our level of investing. While general financial wisdom calls for 10-15% of income being put away for retirement, I’d like to aim for much higher numbers. One reason is because we’re starting fairly late into the game. Both of us are in our 30s now, and we didn’t save much in our younger years. In fact, I’ve personally wasted a lot of money in my 20s, so now I have to put extra work into saving more just to catch up.
Also, our financial goals are quite different from the norm. We don’t want to work well into our 60s before we retire. Ideally, I want us to be financial independent by the time we are in our mid-40s. Both of us feel the need to help our parents when they’ll be unable to work. Also, I have a whole list of dreams and goals I’d like achieve – and having extra money will sure help with it.
2. Increase our net worth by $100,000
We’d like to increase our overall net worth by $275/day! Between Jan. 1 of 2014 and Jan. 1 of 2015, I’d like to see it to go up by $100,000. This includes the growth of our existing investments + contributions throughout the year.
3. Finish school and acquire professional designation (Mrs. Financial Underdog)
This is a big agenda item for my wife this year. She’s been at it for 7 years by now! First, she had to acquire a college diploma. Then, she’s started a long and tedious process of acquiring professional designation in her field of studies (accounting). Basically, for seven years she’s been taking courses on top of her full time work.
I’m immensely proud of her efforts. She’s been studying at nights and weekends all this time and also manages to work full time, cook food, go to the gym, and keep our house tidy. Of course, I’m trying to help her any way I can as well.
But if everything goes right and stars align properly, she will be done with school this year for good. She only has a handful of courses to finish, but they just happen to be the most difficult ones. But we can see the light at the end of the tunnel!
4. Increase my physical activities
I won’t be setting insane goals like “going to the gym every day”. This year I basically want to increase my overall physical activity by doing something every day that requires some level of exercise.
If it’s a nice sunny day out – I want to be hopping on a bike and going for a ride.
If it’s a snowy cold day – I’ll be shoveling our driveway and even my neighbors’ to stay active.
If I haven’t done anything all day, I’ll be going for a nice long walk with an audio book to pass the time.
No insane promises of hitting the gym 5 times a week. I’ll just do something every day to stay active and keep the blood flowing.
5. Keep blogging every week
I will keep blogging on a weekly basis. I truly enjoy writing around the subject of personal finance, and using my blog as an outlet. Even if it helps one person to become better at managing money, it’s worth it to me.
As a side note, I think it’s time to clean up my blog and put some work into organizing it. For the most part, I only work on blog posts, and pay little attention to the overall structure of the web site. For this, I’d like to re-do the menus, and start converting some of my older posts into pages linked to menus for people to read.
I don’t know much about web design unfortunately, but a little trial and error will do the trick, I think.