2017 New Year Goals and Resolutions

2017 New Year Goals and ResolutionsHappy New Year! Did you have a good 2016? We had a great year and now we’re ready to face 2017. Last year, I achieved 9 out of 11 goals and that was awesome. I was able to finish most of these goals because I had moderate expectations. That works better for me than “shooting for the moon.” I find that setting high expectations doesn’t work for me because I can’t achieve them and then I become discouraged. My style is to go at a slow and steady pace. Shooting for the moon is probably better for younger folks, though. Here is my approach on setting New Year Goals.

  • Set achievable goals– Don’t shoot for the moon unless you have a good record of high achievement. Most of us will just become discouraged and give up.
  • Make the goals specific and measurable– Goals need to be very specific. Don’t set general goals like losing weight or saving more. A better goal would be lose 10 pounds or save an extra $50 a month. You also need to figure out a way to get there. How will you lose 10 lbs? What will you put away into savings?
  • Write them down and track your progress– Write down your goals and put them where you will see them. Personally, I put my goals here on Retire by 40 and update the status every month. This has been working really well over the last 5 years since I have a public audience and I made tremendous progress with our finances and personal living. I recommend starting a blog if you don’t already have one. It really helped me and it might help you, too.

Okay, so that’s how I approach my New Year Goals. 2017 is going to be a tougher year because I have a lot of things I want to accomplish.

Financial Goals

1. Save $50,000 in our tax-advantaged accounts

I’ve had this goal for a few years now and we have been able to accomplish it since I started tracking it. This is a baseline goal and we should not have any problem achieving it. I’m kind of attached to this goal because maxing out your 401k is the easiest way to become wealthy over time. Everyone should have this baseline goal. Here is how we plan to save over $50,000 in our tax-advantaged accounts in 2017.

  • Mrs. RB40’s 401k: $18,000
  • My solo 401k:$18,000
  • Our Roth IRA: $11,000
  • RB40Jr’s 529 plan: $4,000

2. Increase Dividend Income to $11,500

Last year, we received $10,789 in dividend income and did not achieve this goal. I sold some stocks and haven’t reinvested the money yet. We have about $26,000 in the money market account and I’m looking for good dividend growth stocks to invest in. We should be able to achieve this goal if I put the money to work in a timely manner. I will also track our passive income better this year and post on how it is doing on a monthly basis.

If you want some dividend income, then follow this link – How to Start Investing in Dividend Stocks.

3. Passive Income covers 78% of living expenses

The ultimate goal is for our passive income to cover 100% of our living expenses, but that is going to take time. Our 2016 FI ratio is about 70% and this is going to be a tough goal. I’ll keep track of this in our monthly passive income post too.

4. Net Worth increase beats the 2040 Target Date Fund

I’ve been struggling to set good goals for our net worth. I don’t like shooting for, say 8%, because we’d never achieve that in a down year. Last year, I followed Sam’s (Financial Samurai) lead and set the goal to 3x risk free rate. That was pretty good, but this also had a similar problem as shooting for a flat percentage. You can’t do it if the stock market crashes.

For 2017, I’ll make it simple and try to beat the Vanguard Target Retirement 2040 Fund, VFORX. Their current allocation is about 88% stocks and 12% bonds at the end of 2016. I think this is a good measuring stick and we should be able to beat it. If we can’t consistently perform better than VFORX, then it’d be simpler to just put everything in that fund. I’ve been tracking our net worth since 2006 and it is very motivating to see the progress we’ve made.

2017 New Year Goals

5. Move RB40Jr’s 529 plan to Vanguard.

RB40Jr’s 529 plan is with the Oregon College Saving Plan right now. It’s good because we get the deduction on our state tax, but I prefer Vanguard because they have low fees. This account has grown to about $55,000 and it’s time to minimize the fees.

I plan to move the account to Vanguard in Q1 and then start another account at Oregon College Saving Plan. That way we’ll still get the state tax deduction for new contributions. This is an easy one, but if I don’t put it here, I probably won’t get it done.

6. Move Mrs. RB40’s IRAs to Vanguard

I’d like to move Mrs. RB40’s traditional and Roth IRAs to Vanguard so we can consolidate our accounts. Currently, the IRAs are at an online brokerage and she has to pay a transaction fee whenever she makes a contribution. The investments there are all in Vanguard funds so it’d be better to move it all to Vanguard so she can avoid the transaction fees. This is also an easy one and we’ll try to get it done in the first half of 2017.

Blog Goals

7. Increase Income to $36k

My online income took a beating in 2016. I made about $30,000 and that’s a 20% decrease from 2015. This year, I will work to improve our online income and hopefully get it back to $36,000. The goal is to eventually increase our online income to $50,000 per year. That would be a comfortable level for Mrs. RB40 to retire and come work with me.

Check out my tutorial – How to Start a Blog and Why You Should.

8. Redesign Retire by 40

I haven’t changed Retire by 40 in a few years and it is starting to look dated. I’ll revamp the site in 2017 to make it more attractive and improve the loading speed.

9. Increase Pinterest traffic 3x

Pinterest traffic is huge for some sites and we need to grab some of that. Last year, I hired a Pinterest manager for the first half of the year and she got us started. Unfortunately, she moved on to bigger and better things. I have been able to maintain the momentum and our Pinterest traffic is growing. For 2017, I’d like to boost it by 3x.

  • 2016: We had 7,924 sessions (visits).
  • 2017: I’m shooting for 25,000 sessions.

This isn’t going to be easy because we have about 1,000 sessions per month right now. My plan is to create better images here and spend at least 10 minutes on Pinterest everyday. Personally, I don’t think personal finance is a good fit for that platform, but it is working really well for some bloggers.

Pinterest traffic 2016

Personal Goals

10. Fitness

Last year, my goal was pretty simple. I wanted to average at least 6,000 steps per day and I met that goal. My final number was about 6,600 steps per day. This year, I’m increasing the goal to 7,000 steps per day. That’s not a huge increase, but I need to be active to achieve it.

My second fitness goal is to do 15 pull ups in a row. Originally, I was going to shoot for 20, but that seems out of reach. In 2016, I could do 10 good pull ups before we left for Thailand in November. My workout has been a bit sporadic since then. I’ll get back to regular workout after RB40Jr goes back to school.

That’s it for fitness. I’d like to lose a few pounds too, but that’s not a big priority. My weight is stable and it doesn’t fluctuate much as long as I eat reasonably.

11. Start a new site

This goal was punted from 2016. Okay, I got an idea for a site this year. This is going to be a lot of work up front, but once it’s up, it shouldn’t take a huge amount of time. Stay tuned for this one. I’ll try to get it going by February.

12. Join Toastmasters

Last year, I was on a panel at FinCon and it was a very good experience. However, I’m not a very good public speaker and I need to get better. Joining a local Toastmasters chapter seems to be the easiest way to get comfortable speaking to a group of people in a friendly environment. This is the toughest goal for me in 2017. I’m an introvert and I don’t like public speaking so I’ll need to push myself to accomplish this goal.

13. Sign RB40Jr up for an after school activity

RB40Jr started kindergarten last year and it was rough in the beginning. He had a difficult time adjusting to the new environment and caused a lot of problems initially. Now that he’s more familiar with his teachers and classmates, he is doing very well. I wanted to sign him up for an after school activity, but decided to delay this until he adjusted to the kindergarten. I think I’ll sign him up for martial arts in the winter and then maybe soccer when the weather turns nicer.

Fun stuff

14. See the 2017 total solar eclipse

Did you know that a total solar eclipse will pass through the US on August 21, 2017? A lot of Americans will be able to see this because it will pass right over the middle of the country. This one should be relatively easy for us because the eclipse will make landfall in Oregon! We’ll have almost 2 minutes of totality at Lincoln Beach. It will then pass over Oregon’s capital, Salem, and continue through 13 more states. In fact, I already reserved a camp site at the beach. Heh heh heh… Now, I just need to get some eclipse glasses and we’d be set. I’m really excited about this. I really hope it will be a clear day.

15. Visit a national park

We went camping at the Crater Lake National Park last year and had a great time. I’d like to see more of our great national parks. Oregon has only one national park so this year we will head up north to Mt. Rainier or Olympic National Park in Washington. I need to get on the ball and reserve a campsite very soon, though.

16. Go on an international trip

Last year we had an amazing 3 week trip in Thailand and Cambodia. This year, I’m not sure where to go yet. It will probably be a shorter trip to Central or South America. We haven’t been to Cancun or Puerto Vallarta so there are some easy options.

Busy 2017

Whew, that is a lot of stuff to do in 2017! I’d better make a chart and schedule them. It’s better to spread everything out so I can tackle them one at a time.

2017 New Year Goals timeline

Alright! Now I have a plan. See, blogging is very useful. There are a lot of things to do in Q1, though. I’ll try my best, but some of these might get push out a bit. I’ll update my progress every month and you can see how much progress I’m making throughout the year. We’ll see how it goes.

Do you make New Year Resolutions? What are some of the things you’d like to accomplish in 2017?


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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. After 16 years of investing and saving, he achieved financial independence and retired at 38.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is investing in commercial real estate with CrowdStreet. They have many projects across the USA so check them out!

Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. They have many useful tools that will help you reach financial independence.
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62 thoughts on “2017 New Year Goals and Resolutions”

  1. It would be so awesome if you started a YouTube channel! I’m sure you’d get a lot of views. I totally love your advice and transparency!

  2. Question on the Oregon College Savings Plan (as I also live in Oregon) – can you contribute for the tax deduction and then immediately move that money to Vanguard? Or do you have to leave it with the Oregon fund for some period of time in order to get the deduction?

    • I think you can move it only once per year. I don’t know if you can immediately move the money over. We’ll go through the process this year and share my experience soon..

  3. “Most of us will just become discouraged and give up.” This is soooo true. For example, people talk about dieting in the new year and say they are totally cutting out carbs and sugar who normally eat candy, soda and some kind of bread pretty much everyday. I mean come on that’s not realistic and you’ll end up feeling angry and upset. It’s all about being reasonable and attainable I think when we try to set up our goals. Good luck in 2017!

  4. An amazing collection of goal setters for 2017. There were a lot of financial setbacks in 2016 for me, and I intend to learn from my past mistakes and make 2017 a year of personal gains. Planning ahead never fails especially in a financial scenario. Thus in 2017, I will plan better and save more in order to achieve my goals.

  5. I love your spreadsheet! I do a similar one for travel usually to track expenses specifically but I like the idea of using it for the whole year’s expected goals and milestones. I’m going to give this a try.

    Let me know if you find any good deals 🙂 I’m still sitting on some investing cash.

    Unrelated to anything but planning the year: Do you guys celebrate Lunar New Year?

  6. Love reading everyone’s goals for 2017. And I love your method of SMART goals. Can’t wait to get updates. My goals are as follows.

    Pay off a rental property known as 2122
    We are on track to have one of our investment properties paid off this year. Most likely it will be mid-2017 around June. Really excited about this as the income will help us get the other property paid off and begin building wealth for early retirement.

    Earn $10,000 in side-hustles
    My plan for this is to earn extra passive income through eBay, Etsy and public relations/marketing services. I’ll also add “catch alls” like Ibotta and Ebates here.

    Fully fund my 2016 Roth IRA
    At this point I’m about half-way there, but will have this done by tax time.

    Cut back on Boozie spending
    I’m spending way too much on alcohol. Plus, it’s not good for my health.

    Grow my Twitter account to 1,000 followers
    I’m at about 450 now, so I think this is very doable.

    Have a net worth of $250,000
    A quarter of a million has a very nice ring to it. I’m at about $220,000 now and should reach this no problem.

    Increase my investments to $40,000
    I’m at $33,000 now. If the market holds and with my contributions I should reach this goal too without issue.

    • Thank you for sharing your goals!
      Getting a rental paid off would be a great accomplishment. That’s awesome.
      Cutting back on alcohol is good too. I stopped drinking almost completely now. Alcohol is really bad for my triglyceride problem.
      Good luck in 2017. Your goals look very achievable and they are really great goals.

  7. Great looking plan! Outperforming the retirement target fund is a neat idea. I appreciate it can be hard to set investing goals based on performance but this seems like a worthwhile benchmark to keep in mind. Thanks again for sharing!

    • I think it’s a great idea too. At first I was just going to compare it to 60/40 stock split, but using the target fund is easier. It is probably a better benchmark for our age as well. Good luck in 2017!

    • I hear you. I made too many goals this year, but I need to finish up some easy ones that has been hanging around for a long time. You can just check the table at the end if it gets too long. 🙂 Good luck to you as well.

  8. Thank you for this article. I r e ad a lot of financial independence stuff, and it leaves me somewhat upset, feeling lazy myself about it. I need to set some goals, and perhaps start a blog to articulate it.

    For a quick start:
    1) start something as a side business, that can eventually grow into something bigger. our engineering employers leave us wary of layoffs. It would be nice to have another source of income. FIRE is a big I interest of mine, so maybe I need to join the blogosphere?
    2) lose a few pounds. I was at 160 for years,and it has creeped up above 170. That annoys me.
    3) like you, save $50k via 401k’s, Roth OR As, and 529s.
    4) achieve blue belt in karate. That should be easy; Brown is a stretch goal.

    Jeff V

    • Don’t feel upset. You just need to focus on your own progress. 🙂
      These are great goals. Starting a blog is really good for personal growth. You’ll benefit even if you don’t make much money.
      Good luck with your weight. Fitness is really difficult for me as well.

  9. Hi Joe:

    I think its good you have a networth goal. But I think when you are tracking against an index you need to compare apples to apples. That is don’t don’t add any of your real estate stuff in there.

    But even if you did that, it would still not be a true comparison because the index is not constantly contributing add’l money from a job and/or side income. It starts at an X amt, and then ends at a Y amt.

    I think you were better off to pick a number and shoot for that number vs going up against an index.

    Just my opinion.


  10. Great set of goals Joe! You have a busy 2017 ahead of you! I’m curious if you have an end goal for your dividend income? Like having it cover all or a set portion of your expenses. This is an area I dabbled in during 2016 but elected to go for more growth since I don’t need the income now.

    • Thanks! I don’t really have an end goal for dividend income. It would be great if dividend can cover 100% of our expense, but that’s a while off yet.

  11. Love your idea about joining Toastmaster’s. I do a lot of public speaking in my job, but it certainly isn’t my comfort zone! It’s great to look for support in the areas that you can improve on! Looking forward to your new website idea too – I’ve been waiting patiently to find out 😉

  12. I am a goal setting nut, so I love all this so much. I also break down my yearly goals into quarterly targets. Then I take that quarter target and decide what I will tackle each month. Which shapes the weekly plan. And I use those weekly targets to determine my actions for the day. Yup. It’s that weird. =) New Years is totally my fav time of year!

    • I love your cutting back goal. We are all too busy these days. We need to slow down a bit and enjoy life. I haven’t done the scheduling in previous years, but it seems very helpful. We’ll see how it goes. Happy New Year!

  13. I need to make some goals/resolutions. I really like how you post yours and track your progress on the blog. I think doing that would keep me accountable.

    Good luck on all your goals for the year!

    • Yes, tracking the goals has been very helpful especially in the middle of the year. If I don’t track them, they just get dropped completely. That’s how it was before I started blogging about my goals.

  14. I also support the Toastmasters goal. You will learn a lot, and will also have fun and meet some great people. I was a longtime member during my working years, and met some of my lifelong friends through Toastmasters. (Please consider starting it earlier in the year, if possible. You can listen to other people for a while before you do any speeches.)
    Congratulations on establishing a great set of diverse goals.
    I also like to include reading a certain number of books, which means not just starting them (my tendency) but finishing them. I take a picture of the book when I finish it, so I can give or recommend it to others, or just for keeping track. Later today I will do the count for 2016.

    • Mrs. RB40 has been in Toastmasters for almost 20 years. She loves it and I’ve been to a few meetings. Hopefully, I can join this year.
      Good luck in 2017!

  15. Hi Joe happy new year! I strongly believe you will have no problem increasing your revenue to $36,000 this year. I can tell you one tip over email that will get you there no problem if you want! Shoot me an email.

    Do you really want to start another site? I would just write more on the side and focus. All those other guys who started niche sites are kind of not going anywhere. Only you if you have plenty of time to spare I say!

    Let’s hope the bull market continues!


    • Happy New Year! I’m ready to rear any tips from a master like you. 🙂
      I’ll give the other site a shot. It’s on a different topic and it should not take a huge amount of time. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll move on.

  16. Tracking net worth against a stock index seems odd to me. As you’ve mentioned before, some of the gains you had were due to Portland’s real estate market doing well. It could have a down year just like the stock market and you can’t control it.

    I think fundamentally much of your (and my) assets are things that we don’t control. If it’s anything like mine, it’s at least 85% stocks and real estate. It’s hard to set a goal against that. It feels like a hope, isn’t it?

    I’ve had the Toastmasters goal for at least a decade. It’s always fallen off as “not a priority.” 🙁

    • You’re right, but I’m not sure how else to do it. I guess I could add REIT in there. It will make it too complicated, though. You’re right that we can’t control the stock market or real estate market. It is still good to track our net worth.
      I really hope I can join Toastmasters this year. I’ve been putting it off for a few years too.

  17. I’ve been a little confused about “RB40’s 401k: $18,000” and “My solo 401k:$18,000.” Is RB40’s the employer’s contribution and the solo 401K your component?

    Mrs. RB40 has a 401k according to the previous link. Is that what the first (RB40’s) $18,000 is?

    I think my confusion is that I presume “RB40” to be this website and you’ve consistently used “Mrs. RB40” to refer to your wife.

  18. That’s a nice long list of goals! I really like the idea of competing against the 2040 target date fund. That’s definitely a better way of measuring your savings and investment performance. And I like that you have some more international travel on the list, we just booked a couple of trips for 2017 🙂

    Happy New Year, and good luck with the goals!

    • Nice! Where are you going next year? We’ll probably take more shorter trips in 2017. No big plan like last year. Thanks and Happy New Year to you as well.

  19. All of those goals sound completely reasonable! My theme for this year is caring: more about others, how I treat myself, think about myself, and just generally taking better care of myself.

    My blog traffic skyrocketed at the end of 2016, so I’d like to figure out how to keep the momentum going in 2017! Good luck with your goals!

  20. Wowza! These are some bangin’ goals for 2017. 🙂 Man, I didn’t know you paid a fee for each Roth IRA transaction; I would totally consolidate that. I currently do my Roth through my bank and they don’t charge any fees, which is nice. I do like consolidating everything in one place, but I do question if the returns are as high as they could be.

    I feel you on the Pinterest struggles. A lot of PF bloggers actually are successful on Pinterest, but I do think it takes some time to create great images and experiment with headlines that will draw people in. But $30k a year is nothing to scoff at, either! I hope you get that big increase. 🙂 I’d love to quit my job and just blog full-time, but for now it’ll just be a fun hobby!

    • It’s just $7 to purchase. That’s why I keep the transition to a minimal and contribute only once per year. Vanguard would be a lot easier. We could just automate it.
      The truth is I loath Pinterest. It can suck up so much time. I can’t ignore it anymore, though. 🙁
      Good luck in 2017!

  21. Not a bad set of goals for the coming year, aggressive but not so far as to be impossible. I especially like the toast masters goal simply because it’s unique. Any plans to leverage it for another side hustle? Here’s to a successful 2017.

    • I’d like to try public speaking and see how it goes. I don’t know if I’m motivated enough, though. We’ll see. Good luck in 2017!

  22. Great goals for the year! I’d like to encourage you on the Toastmasters goal. I’m also an introvert who joined Toastmasters back when I was first starting my career to improve my public speaking skills. I found it was a great way to get to know new people, and a safe environment to practice public speaking. I’ve actually spoken now in front of 30,000 people- and I attribute my speaking skills completely to Toastmasters and a public speaking course I took in college.

    • Thanks! Mrs. RB40 has been with Toastmasters for years. I’ve been putting it off because I didn’t have time when I was a SAHD. I think 2017 will be the year I finally join. Pretty cool that you spoke in front of such a huge crowd!

  23. Great goals, Joe. And I like your goal setting methodology, slow and steady progress wins the race!

    We share the same goal for your Number 8, you’ll have to share any helpful and easy tricks to improving speed!

    I look forward to hearing more about the new site!

    Best of luck for 2017, Joe!

    • I’m not looking forward to redesigning the site at all. The last time I did this, it took so much time and caused so much headache. 🙁

  24. For 2017 my primary goal is to hit a 50% savings rate, we got to 47.5% last year. For my website I would like to get traffic up to 200,000 page views, because I like round numbers 🙂 I was at 136,000 in 2016. Ideally I would gain on web income, but just keeping it steady at around $200 per month would be great. As far as non-finance/web goals, I want to take the kids to more state parks. The youngest is now old enough that hiking isn’t impractical and we have several nice state parks not too terribly far from us.

    You should have no problem switching to Vanguard. We made that move a couple years ago and it made keeping an eye on our accounts easier and saved us a lot of money in transaction fees. The transition was fairly painless as well.

    • Good luck on 50% saving rate. That’s huge.
      I’d like to increase our traffic too, but that’s really hard at this stage. It’s so dependent on Google now. Most of our accounts are at Vanguard and I really like them. Mrs. RB40 has just been putting it off..

  25. I love to read these yearly goals and they have inspired me to set and publish my own ones this year. It is great to have something in written track the progress and not just let the year pass by. Sharing it with the world also motivates you more I guess.
    I like the fact that your goals cover all areas. Life is not only about money 🙂

    • Sharing my goals here has really helped. Previously, I never finish my goals because they are just too hard to keep track of. Happy New Year!

  26. Wow, great set of goals for this year Joe! I think you’re going to be keeping yourself really busy!

    I haven’t decided yet, but I think I’d like to grow my dividend income by 10% in 2017. That would put our annual dividend income around $52k for the year. Seems possible.

    This year the boys will be turning 2 and 4 years old. I’d love to visit a national park too, but traveling when they’re this young is really difficult.

    • These will keep me really busy, for sure. Good luck on increasing your dividend income! Maybe next year will be good for national park. We stayed at a yurt when our kid was 2 and he liked it. After that, we went camping.


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