At the beginning of each year I like to do some planning and set some goals. In the past my goals have always been informal and private. I’d have a few ideas of big things I’d like to accomplish but I wouldn’t write them down and I wouldn’t really track them.
One of the reasons I wanted to create my blog was to track my financial decisions and keep my self accountable. By looking back at my decisions and the rationale for I’ll hopefully be able to learn from any mistakes I make. My hope is that listing my goals here and then showing periodic updates on my progress towards them I’ll have extra incentive to stay on track.
I’m trying to make all of my goals easy to track and monitor. Setting a goal of “make more money” isn’t easy to track and can’t be broken down into smaller goals. Setting a goal of “make $100,000” is a better target.
My plan is to provide quarterly updates on my progress towards these goals.
You can see how I did on my 2017 goals by looking at my 2017 year-end report: 2017 goals – Q4/year end update
In 2017 I decided to divide my goals up into 4 categories:
When considering my goals for this year I ran through and then discarded a number of ideas that just weren’t workable. For example, I want to do less business travel this year. As I’ve written before, I find work travel to be both personally draining as well as a hardship for my family. When I’m not home my wife has to do all of the parenting duties by herself, and while she does a great job, it’s exhausting for her.
So one of the goals was going to be “do less business travel”. The problem was how to track that goal. What does “less travel” mean? Less days? Less flights? Less miles? I couldn’t decide on a definition that was specific and quantifiable, so I’m not including it (although I still plan to find ways to travel less, if possible).
So, without further ado, here are my goals for 2018
This is probably the category that’s most interesting to the majority of people reading my blog. This is, after all, a financial blog.
Goal 1: Generate passive income of more than $70,000 for the year
This is my most important financial goal for the year. After all, my personal definition of financial independence is having $120k/year of passive income. If that is my goal, then progress towards that goal is the most important metric.
In 2017 we generated passive income of just over $62k. $70k is a roughly 12.9% increase from last year. I would expect to get about 8% from increases from my existing stocks. That means I need to get 5% from new investments. Working backwards from an assumed 3% overall dividend rate on my portfolio, that means I need (.05*62,000)/.03 =$103,000 in new investments. Of course, this assumes that the $103k is all available at the beginning of the year. If I’m making investments over the course of the year then I’d need something closer to $206k over the course of the year to equal the equivalent of $103k at the beginning of the year.
I believe this is achievable if the stock market sees a serious pullback. After all, we have over $700k waiting to be deployed in the market once we see better values.
I’ve broken down the goal into cumulative quarterly goals. So I want to have received $16k in total dividends by the end of Q1, $33K by the end of Q2, etc. I assume the dividends will increase each quarter.
Goal 2: Net worth of $5.5M
This is the goal that I feel I have the least control over. After all, at this point in our financial lives, our net worth is about 90% influenced by the markets and 10% by our saving. I don’t think the markets will keep climbing for much longer (otherwise I’d have invested the $700k in cash). In fact, I think that the markets will have a significant pullback at some time in the next 12 months. Of course, there’s nothing any of us can do about the markets. All we can do is save regularly and invest smartly.
With all that being said, I am targeting a 10% increase in our net worth. My hope is that we’ll receive a $150k tax refund, save another $50k-100k, and then get another $150k from the market.
Goal 3: Investigate additional real estate investment
This is a carryover from last year. I am giving myself a few ways to achieve this goal:
- Do the math on paying down one or more existing rental properties and/or primary mortgage
- Investigate and buy an additional rental property
- Investigate some of the crowdsourced FinTech real estate companies out there
Basically, my thinking is that the stock market is extremely overvalued and interest rates are at all-time lows (making bonds a poor investment). I need to investigate alternatives, and I both like and understand real estate as an investment. Perhaps making commercial loans through one of the FinTech companies out there would be a good way to diversify our investments.
These are goals not for my current job in software sales, but for my planned career transition to becoming a full-time financial planner. I’ve decided that the path forward that makes the most sense is to work part-time at nights and weekends on building a client base. This allows me to continue with my current job at my current salary and then, when I’m ready to make the jump, I’ll have both experience and an asset base to help ease the transition.
Goal 4: Pass Series 65 exam
In order to get paid for providing financial advice you need to have passed the Series 65 exam or you need to have an exemption. Exemptions include being a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®), a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC®), a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®), a Chartered Investment Counselor (CIC), or a Personal Financial Specialist (PFS).
Although I’ve passed the CFP® exam, I don’t have the required work experience and thus the exception doesn’t apply to me. So, in order to start building my book of business I need to pass the Series 65 exam. The good news is that the Series 65 exam is a small fraction of the amount of work that the CFP® exam is. The online estimates I’ve seen said that it’s expected to take 20-40 hours of studying (vs. the 200-300 hours of studying for the CFP® exam). I’ve ordered study materials and I’m hoping to log the necessary study time in the next month or two.
Goal 5: Start building client base
If I’m going to make the jump to becoming a financial planner I’m going to need to start building my client base. My plan is to start with friends and family and expand from there. This serves two purposes:
- I’ve talked to a few friends who already have financial planners and it’s pretty clear that their financial planners just aren’t doing a very good job for them. In fact, in one case, I’m pretty sure the planner is doing a terrible job (giving advice to increase the planner’s fees rather than increase my friends’ wealth). I’d love to use my knowledge to help my friends.
- I can start building the hours I need to get certified as a CFP® Professional.
The goal is to add 1 client per quarter.
These are all of my goals related to self-improvement. These goals are mostly physical, primarily because those are the easiest to track. The strength goals are not linear – I’ve assumed faster progress early in the year and slower progress later in the year.
Goal 6 – Read one book per month
I’ve recently realized that although I read a lot, I’m mostly reading blogs, the news, and magazines. And while there’s nothing wrong with this type of reading, it’s all short form stuff. These formats don’t lend themselves into really deep dives into material. I love sitting down with a good book and just getting lost in a topic or a story for a few hours.
For this goal the book can be about anything – investing, history, biographies, fiction, whatever. I just want to do some solid reading. I’ll then be reporting back here after each book and let you all know what I read, what I thought of it, and if I’d recommend it.
Goal 7 – Squat 300 lbs
Goal 8 – Bench 275 lbs
Goal 9 – Deadlift 375 lbs
These are all just straight up strength goals. My numbers at the start of 2018 were quite a bit below my best numbers. Travel has gotten in the way of my training and I just haven’t been very committed. However, since Dec 26, 2017 I’ve been waking up at 5:30 am and lifting weights from 6-7 am every morning. I’ve found that if I don’t workout first thing in the morning it’s just not going to happen. The various work and family demands make it impossible to carve out time in the middle of the day, and I really don’t enjoy working out at night (I wouldn’t be able to start until after the kids are in bed at 7:30).
These aren’t particularly big numbers, but they would be huge for me. I’m a tall (6’4″) skinny (190 lbs) guy. I always have been and always will be. However, hitting these numbers would be big for me, and I think that having those goals will be a big motivator for me.
Goal 10 – Body fat 10%
I realize that this goal is at least partially at odds with my strength goals. After all, it’s nearly impossible to both gain strength/muscle and lose fat at the same time (unless you’re just starting out or on steroids). However, I have a plan!
First, losing weight is more about what you do in the kitchen than what you do in the gym. I’ve been cleaning up my diet – reducing sugar and simple carbs, increasing vegetables, and increasing protein. I’ve starting drinking 2 protein shakes a day. I’ve found it’s more convenient to get additional protein this way than to eat 3-4 extra chicken breasts each day. These 2 extra protein shakes add about 100 grams of protein per day to my diet.
Second, I’ve been riding my bike to work 1-2x per week. It’s 8 miles each way and takes about 40 minutes. I don’t usually enjoy cardio, but using my cardio as a means of transportation makes it much more fun for me.
So, between some small adjustments to my diet and a bit more cardio I think I can get down to 10% body fat by the end of the year. I’ll probably do a series of cycles – cut back on my diet for a few months to drop body fat, then eat at maintenance level (or a bit above) to build strength, and then repeat. I don’t necessarily expect to hit all of my strength and body fat goals linearly, so I might be ahead at the end of one-quarter and then behind at the end of the next. The goal is to hit the goals by the end of the year.
Goal 11 – Post 2x/week
I haven’t really had a consistent posting schedule on this blog. That’s due to a number of reasons – between a full-time job, a wife and 2 young kids, work travel, all of my CFP studying and preparation, and some personal time, I just haven’t had consistent time to write. In addition, I don’t like the idea of creating content on a schedule. My goal is to produce awesome, thought-provoking articles that I’m proud of. I don’t like the idea of sitting down and cranking out a post just so I can post something on any given day.
However, over the last few months I’ve been doing a good job of writing down ideas for blog posts as I think of something. Sometimes I’m inspired by a conversation with a coworker or friend about the markets or finance in general. Sometimes I’m inspired by something I read (online, in a newspaper, or a magazine). Sometimes I just write a title for a potential blog. Sometimes I get a few paragraphs of ideas or an outline saved.
What I’m realizing is that I have a lot of ideas that I’d be interested in writing about and there’s no reason for me to starting posting on a more consistent basis. As a result, I’m going to try to post 2x/week for 2018. That would be 104 total blog posts. Given that I already have ideas for about 1/3 of those posts, I think hitting this goal is going to be more about perspiration than inspiration.
So there you go – my goals for 2018. I don’t think any of these are as life-changing as the goals for 2017 (when I was planning on making a life-changing amount of money), but I’ve tried to set aggressive but achievable goals. I’m excited to have goals in a variety of areas (financial, work, personal, and blog).
Let me know what you think!