Hey Everyone! The first week of 2019 is already over, did you make some New Year Resolutions? I love the New Year because we can start off with a clean slate and forget about last year. Actually, I did pretty well in 2018 and accomplished most of my goals. I only missed a few and I’m okay with that.
This year, I’m going to keep it simple and have fewer goals. I’ll keep them under 10. Read on to see what an early retiree’s New Year goals look like.
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 to setting New Year Goals.
- Set achievable goals – Don’t shoot for the moon unless you have a sterling record of high achievement. Most of us will just become discouraged and give up.
- Make the goals specific and measurable – New Year goals need to be very specific. Don’t make vague goals like losing weight or saving more. You can’t keep track of it and you’ll forget about them by March. A better goal would be to 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. The refrigerator door is a good spot for many people. Personally, I put my goals here on Retire by 40 and update the status every month. This has been working very well over the last 8 years. I have a public audience and you give me the motivation to improve. I made tremendous progress with our finances and personal life since I started blogging. It’s been terrific. I recommend starting a blog if you don’t already have one. It really helped me and it might help you, too.
- Academic scale – On some goals, I’m grading myself on the academic scale. For example, I plan to save and invest $100,000 in 2019. Even if we fall short and saved $90,000, I’ll get an A-. That’s not bad.
Ok, let’s get on to the goal sheet.
Check out my goal sheet below. It’s simple and helpful. I can see my progress at a glance and it’s easy to update every month.
I try to schedule most goals in the first half of the year because I usually don’t get much done in the 2nd half. Summer is always tough because RB40Jr will be out of school. I’ll try to get 3-4 things done by June. I plan to visit Chiang Mai in July and it’ll be tough to accomplish much then.
Increase our Passive Income > $60,000
We spent about $60,000 in 2018. That’s a bit higher than I’d like, but it’s still a pretty good level. In 2019, I’ll try to increase our Passive Income above $60,000. This is going to be somewhat tricky because there are a lot of changes in 2019.
- We’ll sell our rental properties so our rental income will disappear in early 2019. I’ll use the money to invest in dividend stock and real estate crowdfunding. I’m not sure if the income from these two will be able to replace the rental income. We’ll have to wait and see.
Here is our Passive Income spreadsheet.
I’ll grade this on an academic scale because there are too many changes in 2019. I think everything will settle down in 2020 and it’ll be easier to predict what our passive income will look like. It might take a couple of years to push our passive income above $60,000.
FI Ratio > 100%
Unfortunately, we took a step back in 2019. Our expense was higher than normal and our FI Ratio* dropped to 95%. That’s not bad, but I need to get this to 100% before Mrs. RB40 retires. There are many changes in 2019 so I’m not sure if we’ll achieve this goal. I think our expense will drop after we move, but I’m not sure. Hopefully, we can increase our Passive Income to $60,000 and reduce our annual expense at the same time. That’s a tall order, though. You can see how I’m doing with passive income so far here.
*FI Ratio = passive income / expense
Save and Invest > $100,000
In 2018, we saved and invested $102,817! That was fantastic! However, the primary reason why we could save that much was due to a banner year with my blog income. I saved a ton in my solo 401k account last year, over $40,000. I seriously doubt I we could replicate it this year.
The starting points for saving and investing have always been our tax-advantaged accounts. The contribution limits have all increased for 2019. Here is what we plan to save.
- $38,000 in our 401k accounts. That’s $19,000 each.
- $12,000 in our Roth IRAs. That’s $6,000 each.
- $4,000 in RB40Jr’s 529 college savings account.
- $11,000 as employer contributions in my solo 401k. This one depends on how much money the blog makes in 2019.
Add these up and it’s already $65,000. That’s a good starting point. We’ll have to figure out how to save more as we go. Oh, I almost forgot. We should receive some money from selling our rentals. We could invest that and it will help push us over $100,000. Is that cheating?
Update Retire by 40
Retire by 40 still needs a facelift. In 2018, I changed to https, got a new logo, and made a few minor updates. This year, I’ll hire someone to install a new theme. Hopefully, it will work out. I’m always scared of hiring people because I rarely get the result I want.
Travel Hack 100,000 points
This is the same goal I had last year. I paid less than $700 for 3 tickets to Thailand in December. The credit card points helped a lot. Accumulating credit card points is not too difficult for me because I have to pay estimated tax. Those tax payments were enough to push me over most credit card signup requirements. We’ll travel to Thailand again in 2019 so the credit card points will come in handy again.
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Consolidate down to 1 property
We’re planning to sell our 2 condos then move into our rental home. This will simplify our lives a lot. Our tenants are moving out in February so everything is lining up. I hope we can sell our condos quickly and then move. We lived at our condo for 11 years and we really enjoyed it. However, the HOA fee and property tax had increased considerably. It’s time to move on. I’m pretty sure our housing cost will be lower after we move into a house. Mrs. RB40 also doesn’t want to be a landlord. She was very disgruntled when I left her to handle the tenants on this 5 weeks trip to Thailand.
Drop weight to 125 pounds
I rarely make this kind of goal because it never worked before. However, I think I can do it this year. Last year, I got my weight down to 128 pounds. That’s really good! The key was intermittent fasting* and regular exercise. However, I’m probably up to 13x pounds now. I’m eating a ton of food in Thailand. My relatives keep pressuring us to eat more. It’s a way to show affection here. Also, Thai food is so cheap and delicious. Who can resist? We don’t get this kind of Thai food in the US. I’ll weigh myself when I get home and then work on getting down to 125 pounds before summer.
*Here is how I do intermittent fasting. I eat only from noon until 8 pm on the weekdays. This cut down on the calories and I don’t miss breakfast much. I’m busy getting RB40Jr off to school on the weekdays anyway. Try intermittent fasting if you want to lose weight. It really works. If you can’t do it by yourself, I recommend Martin’s Fasting Course. He calls it – What’s for dinner? How you can get jacked by fasting. He’s pretty helpful for a wrestler/blogger.
Keep my happiness level at 8 or above
This one is a tricky one. The 2nd half of 2018 was tough for our family because my mom was diagnosed with dementia. She had hallucinations and she was having a really hard time in Portland. The situation was stressful and it dropped my happiness level from 9 to 8. We decided to move my mom back to Thailand and it’s been very successful so far. She is much happier here and her symptoms are greatly reduced. She rarely gets hallucinations anymore and that makes a huge difference. Life in Portland should be less stressful once we get back. Hopefully, I can raise my happiness level back to 9 this year. It should be okay as long as there are no new problems. (Why are there so many problems in our 40s? Lots of my friends are having all sort of issues. It’s a tough decade.)
Visit Chiang Mai for 6-10 weeks
I’m typing this post in a nice little coffee shop in Chiang Mai. It’s pretty nice here for digital nomads. Chiang Mai changed a lot over the last 10 years. Now, there are nice gyms, coffee shops, restaurants, movie theaters, and all sort of nice places for everyone to enjoy. I wouldn’t mind living here for a few years. However, Mrs. RB40 and Junior aren’t ready to move yet so I’ll have to put it off until later.
I’ll come back in the summer to check on my mom and see how she’s doing. Hopefully, she will be stable for a few years so we don’t need to move her again. On the next trip, I plan to have a more structured routine. I’ll get a gym membership so I can continue my exercise program. We’ll also rent a place instead of staying with my dad. I can’t get anything done with my parent around. It’ll be a good opportunity to enroll RB40Jr in a Thai language program. He can only say “sawad dee krub” and “kob khun krub” right now. (Hello and thank you.) We’ll also try to take a week off to visit Vietnam. It should be a fun trip.
So those are my goals in 2019. I’ll give a status update every month so keep checking back to see my progress.
What about you? Do you have any New Year resolutions for 2019? Remember, the key is to track your progress. If you don’t, then you’ll forget about your goals and won’t accomplish them. Also, get them done early if you can. Let’s do it!
Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is increasing his investment in real estate with CrowdStreet. He can invest in projects across the U.S. and diversify his real estate portfolio. There are many interesting projects available so sign up and check them out.
Joe also 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 DIY investors analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.