Whew, 2013 is almost over. This year was quite a big year for us. I turned 40 and 2013 was the first full calendar year that I didn’t have a full time job. Last week, I read What went well this year? What Didn’t? at Budgets Are Sexy and I thought that’s a great idea. I should reflect on how things went this year and also set new goals for 2014.
What went well this year?
- Overall Finance. As I mentioned above, this is the first full year without a regular income for me. (Mrs. RB40 is still working full time.) We were able to keep our cash flow positive every month and that means I won’t have to go back to a corporate job anytime soon. We were able to continue contributing to our retirement funds and RB40 Jr.’s 529. I’m quite satisfied with how we did this year.
- Net worth. Our net worth grew over 20% in 2013. It has been a great year in the stock market as well as the real estate market. My target was 8% so I’m really happy with how well it went.
- Overall Happiness level. Life is a lot less stressful now that I don’t have a boss anymore. Self employment agrees with me and it enables me to spend a lot of quality time with my family. Being a stay at home dad isn’t easy, but I’m very happy with my life this year.
- Blog Income. Our online income increased over 100% this year. I put more effort into affiliate income and it paid off handsomely. Thank you everyone for supporting Retire by 40! Hopefully, the affiliate links don’t bother you too much. I break down the online income in our monthly newsletter so if you’re curious, sign up with our email list.
- Travel. We took a few short trips this year and it’s great to travel again. RB40 Jr. can fly now and next year we’ll take a longer trip. I’m planning a Hawaii trip and it should be a lot of fun. I think in 2015, he’ll be ready to take a nice long trip to Thailand. I’m thinking about taking 2 months to visit all my relatives. It will be a ton of fun, but I’m not sure how I’ll be able to manage a blog. We’ll see.
What didn’t go so well?
- Fitness. I gained a few pounds and my body fat percentage is about 20%. I stopped going to the gym after I quit my job to become a stay at home dad. Being a stay at home parent is great, but it’s not conducive to exercising at all. I’m planning to turn this around in 2014 and my big goal is to get leaner.
- 4 plex rental. I need to crank the year end numbers, but I think the 4 plex is still losing us a little money. From what I understand, all the big repairs are done and 2014 should be a positive year for us. Our overall rentals are positive because our other rental home generated enough positive cash flow to overcome the 4 plex’s small negative.
- Time. I feel like I don’t have time to do anything. These days, it’s all I can do to write the blog posts. I have a big to-do list for the blog and I don’t have time to work on them. RB40 Jr. is going to preschool now, but it’s just 2 days a week for 3.5 hours. My mom might come to stay with us for a while next year to help with the kid so I may have a little more time again.
All right, that was 2013 in review. I also accomplished most of my 2013 resolutions and it’s time to set new goals. I had way too many goals last year so for 2014, I’ll just set a few major goals.
2014 New Year Resolutions
Invest $50,000 in tax advantaged accounts. Contributing to these accounts will help lessen our tax burden by quite a bit. I’ll keep track of these in our monthly cash flow posts.
- $11,000 Roth IRA – Save up and invest opportunistically.
- $17,500 Mrs. RB40’s 401(k) – auto deduction from paychecks. This is already set up.
- $17,500 my solo 401(k) – auto deduction every month Setup with Vanguard.
- $4,000 RB40 Jr.’s 529 – auto deduction every month Setup with 529.
- Stretch goal – $60,000. Additional saving in 529 and solo 401(k).
Generate $12,000 in passive income. We had about $10,000 in passive income from various sources this year. My goal is to increase that by about 20%. If the rentals do well, we should be able to hit this goal.
- Dividend portfolio – about $9,000 per year
- P2P lending – about $1,000 per year
- Rentals – $1,000 to $3,000 per year
- Stretch goal – $15,000… Not much head room here.
Generate $50,000 net income from my online business. This one is a late addition. Last year we made about $32,500 and it will be a big challenge to increase our income by over 50%.
As I mentioned above, my body fat percentage is around 20% now. My goal is to reduce the body fat percentage to 17%. I’m not too worried about the weight. I joined 24 Hour Fitness around Thanksgiving and it feels good to get back in the gym. The plan is to go work out 3x per week, but it’s been tough with the holidays. RB40 Jr. also got sick and I didn’t want to drop him off at the gym’s childcare facility. This is going to be tougher than I thought.
Take a family trip to Hawaii, Mexico, or Canada. We are planning a family trip with my brothers and it should be a lot of fun. My mom hasn’t been to Hawaii and we thought it would be a great trip for her. Canada is our fallback if that doesn’t work out. We’d have to get a passport for the little guy, though.
Blog goals are a bit trickier. My goal for 2013 is to surpass 100,000 pageviews per month and we fell just a little short. I’m pretty sure we’ll be able to do it in 2014 and I’ll set the bar just a bit higher.
- Hit 120,000 pageviews
- New theme. The blog is starting to look dated and I need to give it a face lift.
- Add forum. I think this would be a valuable addition to Retire by 40. Readers can interact with each other more and it will increase our online footprint. I also heard that it might be a pain to maintain. We’ll just try it and see if it works out.
- Stretch goal – add a new blog… I’d like to start a new blog and hire everything out. If it works out, it will be a small source of revenue without a lot of work.
I’d like to cross 3 things off of my Christmas Bucket List. That’s actually quite difficult. My bucket list has too many big goals. I’d better start crossing them off though. Who knows how long I’ll live?
2014 will be great!
Alright, that was looking back at 2013 and setting some goals for next year. I’m optimistic about next year, what about you? Do you have any New Year’s resolutions? Setting achievable goals and working toward them has been very helpful for me. Happy New Year and good luck in 2014!
Here are my 5 Tips to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions (originally published on US News.)
Set Specific Achievable Goals
This one is pretty easy and I’m sure you have heard it before. A lot of people set vague goals like “I’ll save more for retirement” or “I’ll exercise more.” You can’t quantify your progress with these vague resolutions and you are just setting yourself up to fail. Setting specific and realistic goals will encourage you to keep going and it will be easy to track your progress.
One of our 2013 New Year’s resolutions was to contribute $17,500 to my wife’s 401(k). This might seem high to some people, but she contributed $17,000 the previous year so it’s just $500 more for the year. If you saved $5,000 for retirement in 2013, then maybe $6,000 would be a good target for 2014. You need to determine what a realistic goal is for you.
Make a plan
Once you make a resolution, you need to figure out how to accomplish it. Say you want to save $1,000 more for retirement in 2014. Where will that $1,000 come from? You can cook more at home to save money, get a raise, work a side job, or even sell some stuff on Craigslist. If you don’t have any idea where that extra $1,000 will come from, then this goal will be much more difficult to accomplish.
The easiest way to accomplish your financial resolutions is to automate it. My wife increased her 401(k) contribution by $20 per paycheck last January and she was done for the year. It would have been much more difficult it we waited until December to contribute the extra $500. The end of the year is a terrible time to try to save more. Many of us have travel plans and gift expenses. It’s much easier to automate it at the beginning of the year and take advantage of dollar cost averaging.
Write down your resolutions
Writing down your New Year resolutions make them real. If you don’t put them down on paper, I guarantee that you’ll forget them by April. Write down your goals and what it will take to accomplish those goals then put them in a noticeable place. I review my goals once a month to see how much progress I’m making and that’s a good way to stay motivated.
Make your challenges public
Don’t keep your New Year resolutions to yourself. Sure, some of us can be self motivated and be accountable to ourselves, but it’s much easier if you have some help. Share your goals with your family and close friends so they will know what you are trying to accomplish. Who knows, maybe you will find motivation by having a healthy competition with someone striving toward similar goals. By motivating each other, you could make progress toward your goals.
I share my New Year resolutions on my blog, Retire By 40, and I have a huge motivation to accomplish them. I don’t want to fail in front of 300,000 readers! It would be a big humiliation if I don’t accomplish most of my goals, but I can also be honest about what I cannot accomplish and take steps to reassess those goals.
2014 will be a chance to start fresh. Be specific and realistic about your goals, and plan accordingly on how to accomplish them. If you really want to accomplish a goal that is important enough to make a resolution about it, then follow these steps to keep yourself moving in the right direction.
Photo credit: flickr Anne J.