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2018 New Year Goals and Resolutions


2018 New Year Goals and Resolutions

Huzzah! It’s 2018 and we can start off with a clean slate. Actually, I did pretty well in 2017 and accomplished most of my New Year goals. I only missed a few and I’m happy with my accomplishment. However, many of those goals were a bit staid. I knew I could accomplish them and they weren’t challenging enough. This year I’m trying something new and setting more ambitious New Year goals. Read on if you’d like to see what an early retiree’s New Year goals look like.

Setting goals

In previous years, I had moderate expectations and set goals accordingly. This worked well because I was able to accomplish most of the things on my list. 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 maxing out your 401(k) this year. You also need to figure out a way to get there. How will you lose 10 lbs? Will you increase your 401(k) contribution right away? You need a plan.
  • 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 7 years since I have a public audience and I made tremendous progress with our finances and personal life. I recommend starting a blog if you don’t already have one. It really helped me and it might help you, too.

For 2018, I’m going to be more ambitious and set more challenging goals. I’m sure I won’t be able to accomplish some of these, but let’s try it and see how it works out.

2018 Goals

Last year, I started tracking my goals with this spreadsheet below. It really helped because I could schedule the goals throughout the year. I learned that I needed to schedule the goals in the first half of the year because I didn’t get much done in the 2nd half of the year. Summer was tough because RB40Jr was out of school. It was also impossible to get anything done in Q4 because of vacation, holidays, and starting a new school year. I really need to get things done early if possible.

2018 goal spreadsheet

Okay, it looks like everything got spread out more than I expected. Let’s go over these goals in detail.

Financial Goals

Increase our real estate crowdfunding investment to $100,000

I’m optimistic about real estate crowdfunding and I’m putting my money where my mouth is. Last year, I invested $28,000 with RealtyShares and this year I plan to increase our investment to $100,000.

This will be tough because we don’t have $72,000 lying around. How will we do it?

  1. Savings from work (target $40,000) – We’ll continue to live a moderate lifestyle and channel our extra savings to real estate crowdfunding. Retirement accounts will still be the first priority, though.
  2. Dividend income ($10,000) – I’ll invest the income from our dividend portfolio here. The stock market is overvalued and I don’t want to invest more at this point unless I see a good deal.
  3. Reinvest from RealtyShares ($5,000) – I’ll reinvest the income from RealtyShares.
  4. Rental income ($10,000) – The rental income will go toward real estate crowdfunding. This one is iffy because rental income will depend on repair and maintenance. We’ll see how it goes.
  5. Cash savings ($7,000.) We did pretty well in 2017 and have some cash left. I can pull $7,000 from our savings.

There is a good chance that I won’t be able to achieve this goal by the end of the year. I’ll grade this one on the academic grading system. I’d be happy if I get an A- on this one (90%.)

You can sign up with RealtyShares to browse the various projects and see if real estate crowdfunding is a good match for you.

FI Ratio 100%

Amazingly, our FI ratio was 109% in 2017. So 2018 should be easy, right? I’m not so sure about that. Last year was much better than usual because our passive income was high and our expense low. That won’t be easy to duplicate this year. There are a lot of moving parts with passive income. In particular, the rental income could be volatile. If we have a big repair, it’ll make a deep cut into our passive income. I’ll try my best and we’ll see how it goes. You can see how I’m doing with passive income so far here.

*FI ratio = passive income / expense

Increase bond allocation to 30%

2017 was an awesome year for the stock market. I’m optimistic this year, but who knows what’s going to happen. I’m also nervous because the stock market valuation is approaching the irrational exuberance level of the Dot Com era. The market might do well in 2018, but sooner or later there will be a steep gut wrenching drop. I’d like to reallocate more money to bond before that happens.

Here is our current asset allocation, not counting physical properties.

  • US stocks: 33%
  • International stocks: 35%
  • Bonds: 22%
  • Alternatives: 8%
  • Cash: 2%

I’ll need to cut back on US and international stocks, and then move the money into bonds. This is difficult to do when the stock market is doing so well. Nobody wants to sell when stock price is increasing. However, I’m getting more conservative as I get older so I’ll grit my teeth and do it. I’d like to get this done by June.

Travel hack 100,000 points

Last year, we visited Hawaii and Cancun, but didn’t spend that much money. Travel hacking paid for flights and some hotel rooms. It was awesome. However, Chase won’t let me sign up for any more cards so I’ll have to wait for a while. I’ll try again after the summer and see if I can get a new card. If that doesn’t work, then I’ll convince Mrs. RB40 to do it. This one should be relatively easy. The biggest issue will be meeting the spending threshold.

Blog Goals

Minor redesign Retire by 40

Retire by 40 needs a little face lift. I had this same design for over 5 years now and it looks a little stale. I want to make it a little cleaner. Also, the technology has changed and I need to update to the latest versions of the software. I’m also thinking about a new logo and banner. I’ll try to work on these myself first. If I can’t do it, then I’ll hire it out.

Blog once per month at Fit by 40

Last year, my goal was to start a new fitness blog – Fit by 40. I did that, but posting frequency really dropped off once the summer break started. I didn’t go to the gym while RB40Jr was out of school so I didn’t blog about fitness at all. This year, the goal is to blog at least once per month. My fitness goals are over there and I need to keep on top of them too. For me, writing about fitness isn’t as fun as personal finance. I’m not passionate about it, but I should be able to do it once per month.

Blog income $100,000

This one is going to be very difficult. Last year, I made about $65,000 online, but I doubt it will increase much. This year, I added a Passive Income page and a Recommendations page to the top menu. Hopefully, those will make it easier for readers to see my affiliate partners.

I’ll also try to find new affiliate partners to work with. Recently, I added a credit card affiliate, but it doesn’t seem to work with our readers. I’ll need to find a product that is a better fit. Truthfully, I’d be happy with any increase in income. I’ll grade this one on the academic system too. Even a solid C would be really good here (75%.)

Personal Goals

Join Toastmasters

This is one of the goals I failed to complete last year. There is a club just a few blocks away from our home so the logistics isn’t the problem. I just need to contact them and show up. I’ll try to join up by February and tick this one off the list early.

Not paying for leaf removal

Check out my best rant in 2017 – Am I too cheap for doing yard work? I still think it is insane to pay $360 for leaf removal. This year, I plan to DIY and ask the neighbors to send me $360 instead. I’ll donate the money to the food bank. $360 can feed a family of 4 for more than three months. That price is ridiculous. It’d only take me a few hours to do it so it’s no problem.

Consolidate down to one property

I want to move into our rental duplex and sell our 2 condos. I’ll take profit and redeploy the money in real estate crowdfunding. Being a landlord isn’t bad, but I want to simplify my life a bit. Also, the Portland housing market is pretty expensive now and I’d rather invest elsewhere. Real estate crowdfunding enables me to invest in markets that aren’t too expensive yet.

This goal might take a few years to accomplish.

Fun Goal

Visit Iceland

I need to read up on Iceland more and plan our summer vacation. We plan to visit for about 10 days in July or August. On this trip, I’d like to see the natural wonders of the island. I’m not sure if we’ll drive the ring road or just take in a segment. Let me know if you have any recommendations for Iceland.

2018 is going to be challenging

Oh man, I did it again. I set too many goals this year. However, some of these are really multi year goals. I’ll grade them on the academic grade, not pass/fail. Let’s see.

  • Real estate crowdfunding $100,000 – I’d be happy to get A- (90%) on this one.
  • FI ratio 100% – Ideally, we’d have another great year, but who knows. I’m hoping for an A on this one.
  • Blog income $100,000 – It’d be great to make six figures, but even a C would be acceptable.
  • Consolidate down to one property – I don’t know how long it would take to do this. Our tenants at the duplex aren’t sure when they’ll move out. I know they will move out at some point because they got married last year.

So those are my goals in 2018. Stay tuned and see if I can accomplish them this year.

What about you? Do you have any New Year resolutions for 2018? Remember, the key is to track your progress. If you don’t, then you’ll forget about your goals and probably won’t accomplish them. Also, get them done early if you can. Let’s do it!

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. He spent 16 years working in computer design and enjoyed the technical work immensely. However, he hated the corporate BS. He left his engineering career behind to become a stay-at-home dad/blogger at 38. At Retire by 40, Joe focuses on financial independence, early retirement, investing, saving, and passive income.

For 2018, Joe plans to diversify his passive income by investing in US heartland real estate through RealtyShares. He has 3 rental units in Portland and he believes the local market is getting overpriced.

Joe highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. He logs on to Personal Capital almost daily to check his cash flow and net worth. They have many useful tools that will help every investor analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.
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{ 49 comments… add one }
  • Lily | The Frugal Gene January 4, 2018, 2:31 am

    LOL at not paying leaf removal as a goal!!! I put play Sims 3 as a mid year goal for myself. Hehe, I’m a big baby.

    I really dig the entire format you did with the spreadsheet Joe! It’s from a spreadsheet right?

    • retirebyforty January 4, 2018, 9:23 am

      Yeap. I’m still mad at the whole leaf removal ordeal. That lawn guy robbed us. Yes, it’s an excel spreadsheet. It helps a lot when you have 10 goals.

      • Mr. Tako January 4, 2018, 10:18 am

        Haha, I figured you must still be mad about that leaf situation to put it down as one your 2018 goals!

        Great set of goals Joe! I hope you achieve them all!

        I don’t generally make New Years Resolutions because I tend to give up on them. Maybe I’m just setting goals that are too difficult?

  • Financial Samurai January 4, 2018, 3:07 am

    One hundred thousand dollars from the site would be sweet!

    Are you sure you want to sell your rental property? This is the only one left? Where is Junior going to live for free once he graduates from college? 🙂

    My goal in 2018 to get on your schedule! And to learn about any solid stay at home dad Tips to create more harmony at home. And to learn about solid-state home dad tips to create more harmony at home.

    Now that he’s going to school, does this mean you have a lot of time during the day?


    • retirebyforty January 4, 2018, 9:27 am

      I’m ready to sell. I hope Jr goes to college elsewhere. Portland isn’t that impressive with college. If he goes here then, he can live in one unit of the duplex.
      SAHD tips. You’re very busy so maybe just try to spend more time as a dad and cut back on working a bit. It’s just a few years.
      1. Cook – Mrs. RB40 really appreciate my cooking.
      2. Daycare – Consider daycare or a baby sitter if you need more time to yourself. Put the kid in preschool as soon as you can. 🙂
      Yes, I have more time during the day. I go to the gym, blog, and do some chores. Good luck!

      • Sam @ Financial Samurai January 4, 2018, 8:27 pm

        I guess you’re right about Portland not being super impressive about college. But the job scene seems pretty great, and it would be nice if he had a place to stay.

        We’re going to get some baby sitter relief a couple times a week or so for 3 hours each session. Should help.

        I’m definitely cutting back this year. Even posting just once a week is probably gonna be fine, but that feels too little for how much that’s going on.

        • retirebyforty January 4, 2018, 8:54 pm

          Good idea with babysitter. Just a few hours per week will really help. Looking forward to the changes at FS. Hopefully, business will continue to be good.

  • Ms99to1percent January 4, 2018, 3:24 am

    Happy New Year Joe! Looks like 2018 is going to be very busy and productive for you! And I hope you achieve that $100k for the blog 🙂

    • retirebyforty January 4, 2018, 9:28 am

      I hope so too, but I’d be happy with $75k. It might take more than one year to reach $100k.

  • [email protected] January 4, 2018, 4:31 am

    Joe I love that you are making SMART goals. My favorite is the leaf one. I have one gripe though. Your retired, yet you only have one goal listed for fun. Isn’t the point of retiring early to relax and have fun? I think you should add a few more in there.

    • retirebyforty January 4, 2018, 9:29 am

      I’m not sure what to add in the fun category. Life is already relax and fun on a daily basis. We’ll schedule a camping trip in somewhere.

  • Tom @ Dividends Diversify January 4, 2018, 4:41 am

    Awesome Joe. If you can hit $100K with the blog, then I can lower my blogging goals from 10% of your financial achievement to 5%. Seriously, $100K would be great for you and the RB40 family. I am totally rooting for you.

    I have to chuckle about the academic grading system. I’m a graduate business school teacher and the students expect an A for showing up and doing the work regardless of the quality. It is a bit of a sad state, but I’m not in it anymore to change the world. I know your standards are higher.


    • retirebyforty January 4, 2018, 9:30 am

      Thanks! I’ll work on it, but it might take a few years to get to $100k.
      Sorry to hear about the academic system. I guess kids are spoiled by good grades from earlier years.

  • Helen @ Retire Early Helen January 4, 2018, 5:08 am

    I like the goal of raking the leaves yourself. I did mine every year. It was not too bad. I liked the exercise and fresh air. The lawn really looked good once done.

    I set up my New Year resolutions on Jan 1. Will try to push my Spanish to the next level, lose some weight, and continue enjoying each day of my early retirement.

    • retirebyforty January 4, 2018, 9:31 am

      Good luck with your goals. I like your Spanish goal. I’d need to immerse myself to get better with foreign languages. That’s why I want to live in Thailand for a year or two. My Thai could be much better.

  • Dave @ Married with Money January 4, 2018, 5:23 am

    Those are some aggressive blogging goals, I like it! I like the leaf one too haha 🙂

    I think that you’ll be surprised (again) by blogging income. It seems like once people gain some momentum it builds and builds.

    Good luck, looking forward to following along!

    • retirebyforty January 4, 2018, 9:32 am

      I hope you’re right about the blogging income. That’s not my experience, though. It seems to peak and then drops off. I need to find new affiliate partners to bring the income up again. Good luck in 2018!

  • Ms. Frugal Asian Finance January 4, 2018, 5:23 am

    Whoo I love all of your goals, especially $100k in blog income and not paying for leaf removal hehe. I’m not shooting for the moon in 2018 either because I don’t want to end up crying at the end of the year. Slow and steady is the way to go!

    Best of luck in 2018, Joe! ^.^

    • retirebyforty January 4, 2018, 9:33 am

      Shooting for the moon is tough. As long as I don’t get an F in any goals, I’d be happy. 🙂
      Good luck to you as well.

  • Turning Point Money January 4, 2018, 5:25 am

    Great goals. Iceland sounds fantastic. Its been on our list for years. We are waiting for the kids to get a little older so they can participate more in some of the awesome hikes.

    $100k from the blog would be an amazing achievement. Cheering you on!

  • Aparna @ Elementum Money January 4, 2018, 5:51 am

    Great list of goals. I ended up sharing only my blog-oriented goals as I wasn’t entirely sure readers are interested in any other goals that I may have.

    While I love the blogging income goal, I think the blog design revamp goal is quite a task. Good luck with that and all your other goals 🙂

    I am a newbie PF blogger and have for now limited myself to actionable a like guest posts and roundup posts.

    • retirebyforty January 4, 2018, 9:34 am

      You should share you other goals too. Readers are interested in personal goals. They are what differentiate you from other bloggers. You need to put some personality into it. 🙂
      Good luck!

  • Caroline January 4, 2018, 5:58 am

    Some really good goals for 2018! I guess with such an increase in blog income this year, you had to shot higher for next year. Do you expect to have to spend more than your 20-30 hrs a week to get there? Does it ever feel like work?

    • retirebyforty January 4, 2018, 9:35 am

      I’m keeping it at 20-30 hours per week. Being a dad is still higher priority at this point.
      Yes, it feels like work sometime, but the good kind.

  • Steve @ familyonfire.org January 4, 2018, 6:53 am

    The key to any objective is to make it SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time bound) so these look good.

    I’m still working through our family’s performance indicators and I should have them finalized and up next week.

  • DocG January 4, 2018, 7:49 am

    Great goals and accomplishments. 65K blog income is quite impressive! Hope this year is even better.

  • Tanya January 4, 2018, 9:12 am

    Happy New Year!

    I laughed at the leaf removal comment. It really must have irked you. You’re right though.
    Iceland is great. I went a few years ago, but only for a week. Reykjavik is small so you will have plenty of time to explore. There are things to see all over the island – you can’t really go wrong.

  • Tanya January 4, 2018, 9:20 am

    Forgot to say. Regarding the high stock valuations, did you have a chance to read the paper by Jeremy Grantham (experienced fund manager and historian of stock market bubbles) entitled “Bracing Yourself for a possible near-term melt-up”? It was issued 3 Jan. He thinks the stocks will push up a lot more over the next 9-18 months (because we haven’t quite reached exuberance yet), but then that will be it. In 9-18 months, he thinks we’re in for a crash. An interesting read, in my view.

    • retirebyforty January 4, 2018, 9:38 am

      I haven’t read that one. I will check it out. That’s my view too. The economy is strong and everyone is optimistic from the tax cut. However, valuation is too high. It can’t go up forever. I’ll try to get our bond allocation up to 30% soon. Thanks for your input.

  • Adam @ Minafi January 4, 2018, 1:05 pm

    These are some awesome goals! I really connect well with how you structure them too. They are very tied to effort rather than outside factors. For instance, you focus on what you can control rather than the markets, pageviews, etc.

    I copied your spreadsheet format and I’m using it for my own personal goals this year too! Except that I’m breaking it down month by month rather than by quarter. I’d be curious – what drove you to split it up by quarter as opposed to month/6-weeks/2 months/etc.

    • retirebyforty January 4, 2018, 8:49 pm

      It was just easier for me to break it down by quarters. Fits better on the web page.
      It also sync up somewhat with the school year.

  • Felipe January 4, 2018, 1:51 pm

    20 years ago I’d set simple goals – go the beach more (I lived an hour from the Gulf back then), sit on the front porch at night with no headphones more. I’ve let myself get away from that. You’re giving me good ideas for goal-setting.
    Financial goals I feel I’ve already accomplished, so I’d be happy if I stayed flat financially. Somehow a big corrections seems overdue. So on my goal list will be to not care as much – about finances, about other people’s stresses. I’ve got plenty of firewood, a paid off house, and health. I think I just need to chill.

    • retirebyforty January 4, 2018, 8:49 pm

      I like your old goals. Good luck with them and enjoy life.

  • winkle January 4, 2018, 5:00 pm

    Definitely drive the ring in iceland. If you plan on eating out there, make sure you save up. Food is expensive….We ate pretty well there but paid a fortune for it. Even a two person meal at KFC was 30 bucks for us.

    • retirebyforty January 4, 2018, 8:50 pm

      Wow, that’s pricey. I’ll check out food price. Maybe we’ll do Airbnb and cook a few meals.

  • Sarah January 4, 2018, 5:01 pm

    I didn’t see that anyone mentioned this…Amazing Race started a new season last night and the first destination was Iceland. You can probably find it online. What a beautiful country. One place I’d really like to visit.

  • Matt January 4, 2018, 5:45 pm


    You have some awesome goals! Pretty awesome that you’re not wanting to pay for leaf blowing! I have a hard time paying for lawn care myself. It just feels wasteful.

    Hey curious as to what your bond allocation is right now and how you decide to go heavier on them and lighten up in the stocks.

    I’m 100% in stocks (I have a DB government pension which I treat as a bond.

    Can’t wait until I’m making money on my blog like you!!


    • retirebyforty January 4, 2018, 8:53 pm

      My bond allocation is about 22% right now. I’ll try to go to 30% by the end of the year. The stock market is high and it feels like 1999. It will go higher, but it will crash at some point.

  • Kate January 5, 2018, 2:16 am

    Great goals for 2018! I look forward to following your progress.

  • Jim January 5, 2018, 8:15 am

    Hi Joe and Happy New Year! I am a newbie to your site and wish I had discovered it earlier, as I feel a kinship. After a 20yr Engineering/Management career, I have been a SAHD for 1.5 years to one daughter also in 1st grade, like your son. We live in the Pittsburgh area; and my wife is also still working. So many questions I could ask you, but of course I’ll continue reading past postings where I’m sure you touched on many of the subjects. I much appreciate your openness about so much stuff, as well as the info about real estate crowdfunding. Looking forward to future reading & dialogue!

  • Accidental Fire January 5, 2018, 8:28 am

    Firstly, definitely visit Iceland, I’ve been a few times and it’s amazing.

    Your blog goals are ambitious but you seem to hit everything out of the park so I’m guessing you’ll do it.

    Lastly, don’t let the leaf removal man stay under your skin. If you stay angry then he wins 😉

    • retirebyforty January 5, 2018, 11:13 am

      I was mad for a few days, but not anymore. This year I won’t get mad because I have an alternative. 🙂

  • Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life January 5, 2018, 11:01 am

    I’m conservative too, like you even if I’m probably a little younger because I’m expecting the market to drop sharply at some point and I remember the struggle during the recession very clearly!

    I’m trying to combat my turtle-instincts by researching other investment options that we can focus on instead of just the stock market at these highs, and preserve cash for buying when it drops. Of course that’s the idealistic version that assumes that the market will rise again in time after it drops. I certainly wasn’t any good at predicting which businesses would be bailed out and succeed again during 2009-2010.

    I have a long list for this year including investigating whether we want to get into Realty Shares when we are eligible.

    • retirebyforty January 5, 2018, 11:15 am

      It really feels like 1999. The market is high and everything keeps going up. People think the old rules don’t apply anymore. The market will probably go higher, but it will crash at some point. Some bonds and other alternatives will sooth the pain. Good luck in 2018!

  • mary w January 5, 2018, 11:17 am

    You need to get MrsRB40 on-board with credit card churning. In my family I do all the work (apply for cards, pay bills, track spending, etc.), he just uses whatever card I give him until I swap it for another one. I don’t drag him into “use this one for gas and that one for Target” or he wouldn’t play.

    Even if you got her just one new credit card a year that could really generate some points.

  • Diedra January 5, 2018, 2:05 pm

    I really love the food bank idea for the leaf removal!

  • sam January 6, 2018, 1:20 am

    Hi Like your 2018 goals and looking at your progress over the last few years, I dont think they are too ambitious and you will totally make it. Personally, I find making 5-6 resolutions for a year and then dividing them into smaller goals per month helps me better and keeps me on track.
    For instance, I hope to save $24,000 this year from income so monthly aim is to save $2000 by january, $4000 by Feb end and so on.
    Losing weight about 40kg over a year is another major one as I am quite overweight, which is 3-4kg a month.
    Hope I make it. See ya

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